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 6: Everything according to plan? Achieving environmental quality standards by a programmatic approach

Frank Groothuijse and Rosa Uylenburg

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


European environmental directives often include environmental quality standards. An environmental quality standard (EQS) is a value or quality, generally defined by regulation, which specifies the status of a specific component of the environment such as air, soil or water, which has to be achieved by Member States within a certain period of time. In order to comply with these standards many EU environmental directives oblige Member States to establish a plan or a programme in which they are to indicate how they will meet these EQSs in time. Such plans or programmes should include a set of measures aimed at achieving EQSs within time. Where an implementation term has already expired and an EQS is exceeded, the measures should be aimed at complying with the EQSs as soon as possible. Most EU environmental directives provide a considerable margin of appreciation to Member States with regard to implementation of EQSs in national law, although some directives prescribe certain kinds of legal instruments or measures to meet one or more EQS. It is particularly interesting to analyse the way EQSs are implemented in the law of highly densely populated countries like the Netherlands, because of the significant pressure on the environment in these countries. In those countries EQSs - and not only the ones on air quality - can entail serious restrictions for new spatial developments, such as infrastructure and industrial and residential areas.

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