The implementation of EU environmental policy: Why the scope conditions have improved?

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Alexander Burgin


Implementation gaps of European Union (EU) environmental policy are explained, inter alia, by shortcomings in knowledge, a lack of administrative capacities and weak enforcement practices. However, this article presents evidence that the scope conditions have improved, based on document analysis and semi-structured interviews with actors involved in the implementation process. Four main factors are considered. First, the Commission’s monitoring capacities benefit from an improved access to data sources other than those provided by the member states, and from a reduced legislative agenda, allowing for a more intense focus on implementation. Second, subnational actors have improved their implementation capacity through knowledge transfers and strategic planning, facilitated by improved statistical data. Third, inspection networks benefitted from technical advances, such as the access to satellite images, presenting new opportunities for the detection of environmental crimes, and new software programs facilitating risk-based inspections. Finally, citizens’ and non-governmental organizations’ improved access to justice in environmental matters contributes to a stricter enforcement of EU law.


Keywords: networks; European Union; software programs


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