New Directions in the Effective Enforcement of EU Law and Policy
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New Directions in the Effective Enforcement of EU Law and Policy

Edited by Sara Drake and Melanie Smith

The EU is faced with the perpetual challenge of guaranteeing effective enforcement of its law and policies. This book brings together leading EU legal and regulatory scholars and political scientists to explore the wealth of new legal and regulatory practices, strategies and actors that are emerging to complement the classic avenues of central and decentralized enforcement.
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Chapter 7: Enforcing EU environmental policy effectively: international influences, current barriers and possible solutions

Mariolina Eliantonio


The volume of EU environmental legislation and the serious consequences for humans and nature alike in case of non-compliance has made the issue of the enforcement of EU environmental law a top priority for the EU. The EU commitment to better and more effective enforcement of environmental legislation is all the more urgent because the EU is obliged by virtue of international law under the Aarhus Convention to ensure that the public has effective means to enforce EU environmental law through ensuring ‘wide access to justice’. This chapter will first identify the shortcomings of the system of centralized enforcement of environmental law. It will then analyse the gaps to effective decentralized enforcement before the national courts. The chapter will then consider some ‘new’ modes of governance in the enforcement of environmental law, namely the use of ‘soft law’ and networks, and evaluate their role towards creating a more effective enforcement regime for EU environmental law. This chapter will show that networks and guidance documents represent a promising addition to the more traditional instruments. However, further academic attention should be devoted to explore their actual effectiveness (and the conditions for their effectiveness) to promote a higher level of compliance with EU environmental law.

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