EU Environmental Legislation

EU Environmental Legislation

Legal Perspectives on Regulatory Strategies

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Edited by Marjan Peeters and Rosa Uylenburg

This thought-provoking book offers a cross-cutting debate on EU environmental legislation from a legal perspective focussing on key themes such as regulatory instrument choice, the coherency of law, and enforceable commitments.

Chapter 3: The emergence of the Framework Directive in EU environmental policy: An exploration of its function and characteristics

Mireille Bogaart

Subjects: environment, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, european law


Nowadays, framework directives are a commonly-known instrument of EU environmental law. Within this policy field, they regulate some of the most important topics. The most famous example here is probably the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Besides, the field of waste management is also regulated by this type of instrument and until 2008 it was the central legislative instrument in the European air quality policy as well. Environmental law is not unique in this respect. Outside the environment field, framework directives are also used, for instance to regulate discrimination in employment, health and safety of workers and electronic communication. It is thus safe to conclude that this type of instrument plays an important role in current EU law and, more specifically, also in protecting our environment. Framework directives are a relatively new instrument of EU law, and they have increasingly been adopted over the last years.They are generally considered as the concrete application of the principle of subsidiarity and the term 'framework directive' seems to imply that the main characteristic of this instrument is that it provides for less detailed rules, laying down basic requirements and general principles. Yet, as such, framework directives are not official instruments of EU law, in the sense that they are not included in the list of legal instruments available to EU institutions in order to exercise the Union's competences as listed in Article 288 TFEU.

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