Working Subgroup for Horizontal legislation

The horizontal sector legislation covers various matters which cut across different environmental subject areas, as opposed to the legislation which apply to a specific sector, e.g. water or air. Rather than to regulate a specific area, these items of legislation are more procedural. They provide for methods, procedures and mechanisms aimed to integrate environment in other policy areas and at improving decision making and legislative development and implementation. Chapter 27 addressed 7 Directives and 1 Recommendation under the Horizontal Legislation sub-chapter:

  1. Directive 2011/92/EU on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It aims to ensure a high level of environmental protection through integrating the environmental considerations into the preparation and authorisation of projects. It defines the environmental impact assessment process which ensures that projects likely to have significant effects on the environment are made subject to an assessment, prior to their authorisation.
  2. Directive 2001/42/EC on Strategic Environmental Assessment(SEA).It aims to ensure a high level of environmental protection and that environmental considerations are taken into account when preparing, adopting and implementing plans and programmes. It promotes sustainable development by ensuring that environmental assessment is carried out during the preparation and before the adoption of certain plans and programmes likely to have significant effects on the environment.
  3. Directive 2003/4/EC on Access to Environmental Information. It fully adapts EU countries’ national laws to the 1998 Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. It guarantees the public access to environmental information held by, or for, public authorities, both upon request and through active dissemination.
  4. Directive 2003/35/EC on Public Participation. It contributes to the implementation of the obligations arising under the Aarhus Convention, in particular by (a) providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment; (b) improving the public participation and providing for access to justice.
  5. Directive 2004/35/CE on Environmental Liability.It lays down rules based on the polluter-pays principle. This means that a company causing environmental damage is liable for it and must take the necessary preventive or remedial action and bear all the related costs. The directive defines environmental damage as: (a) damage that significantly affects the environmental (ecological, chemical or quantitative) status of water resources, as defined in the EU Water Directiveand the Marine Environment Strategy Directive; (b) damage to land creating a significant risk to human health; (c) damage to protected species and natural habitats that adversely affects conservation as defined in the Directive on the conservation of wild birds and the Natural Habitats Directive.
  6. Directive 2007/2/EC on the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community, (INSPIRE). It lays down general rules setting up an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe for the purposes of European Union environmental policies and for policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment. The European infrastructure builds on that of spatial information that is established and operated by EU countries. INSPIRE Directive applies to spatial data (any data with direct or indirect reference to a specific location or geographical area, such as addresses, transport networks, elevation and land use) that (a) cover areas where EU countries have jurisdictional rights; (b) exist in electronic format; (c) are held by, or on behalf of, a public authority or another body using the network; (d) relate to environmental information. EU countries are responsible for ensuring that metadata (information describing spatial data sets and spatial data services, making it possible to discover, inventory and use them) are created for the various environmental spatial data – keyterm_E0003sets and services listed in the legislation.
  1. Directive 2008/99/EC on Environmental Crime. It defines a number of serious offences that are harmful to human health or the environment and requires EU countries to introduce effective and proportionate penalties constituting a deterrent for such offences, regardless of whether they are committed intentionally or through serious negligence. Such offenses include: (a) discharging, emitting or otherwise releasing dangerous materials into air, soil or water; (b) collecting, transporting, recovering or disposing of hazardous waste; (c)shipping noticeable quantities of waste; (d) operating an industrial plant that conducts dangerous activities or stores dangerous substances (e.g. factories producing paints or chemicals); (e) manufacturing, treating, storing, using, transporting, importing, exporting, or disposing of nuclear material and hazardous radioactive materials; (f) killing, possessing or trafficking in noticeable amounts of protected animal and plant species; (g) damaging protected habitats; (h) producing, trading in or using substances that deplete the ozone layer (e.g. chemicals in fire extinguishers or cleaning solvents).
  2. Recommendation on Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspections (RMCEI). It sets minimum criteria for organising, performing, following-up and publishing the results of environmental inspections in all Member States with the aim of improving compliance and ensuring that EU environment legislation is applied and implemented more consistently.

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