Managing Water and Climate Change in Europe and North America
Edited by Inger Weibust and James Meadowcroft
Chapter 10: Ensuring the effectiveness of European Union environmental law: from supranational law making to multilevel enforcement
Since the early 1970s, the European Union's (EU) supranational legislative machinery has developed an impressive array of environmental legislation that prevails over the national laws of its Member States. Yet it is well known that the effectiveness and enforcement of this legislation continues to pose major problems in all Member States as well as, paradoxically, at the level of the EU institutions themselves. Serious concerns about the effectiveness of Community environmental law have been raised both by academic writers and policy makers, especially since the mid-1980s. No comprehensive academic study of the effectiveness of EU environmental law exists: such a study would be very difficult to carry out due to the sheer volume and variety of the relevant legislation. However, a growing number of studies focusing on particular directives (see e.g. Glim 1990), on individual Member States (Haigh 1990) or on certain sectors of environmental law (Haigh 1986; Bennett 1991), many of them funded by the European Commission (Haigh 1986, 3), have been published. All these studies reveal serious deficiencies in the implementation of Community environmental law in the Member States and highlight the discrepancy that often exists between the formal transposition of directives into national law and their practical application on the ground. In this paper we shall analyse the ongoing academic and policy debate on the effectiveness of European Commission (EC) environmental law.
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