Environmental Policies of the European Union


Essay, 2002
17 Pages, Grade: 1,3 (A)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of abbreviations

1. Historical Overview
1.1. 1952 till 1972 - From subordination to awareness
1.2. 1972 till 1987 - From consideration to legislation
1.3. 1987 till 1999 - Improving the legislation
1.3.1. Changes in the Maastricht Treaty
1.3.2. Changes in the Treaty of Amsterdam

2. Areas of policy
2.1. Water protection
2.2. Air pollution
2.3. Waste management

3. Conclusion

Literature Index

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Historical Overview

In order to show to which extent the European Union is entitled to launch environmental policies historical development of the consideration of environmental questions and the decision-making process is outlined. As in the historical process of considering environment the decision-making process and the competencies have been developed and enlarged.

1.1. 1952 till 1972 - From subordination to awareness

Environmental awareness was no topic to be considered at the time of the first contracts for the European Economic Community (EEC). The Treaty of Rome did not include any Articles referring to the creation of an environmental policy as trade and economic development were the important issues.

At the beginning of the seventies the Community took environmental aspects systematically into consideration for the first time. The first approach was taken by the European Community Commission in 1971, as they defined “environmental protection and development” as essential task for the EEC.1

Discussion emerged whether environmental protection should be regulated on behalf of Community actions, or on behalf of bilateral coordination between member states.2 According to the “compétence d’attribution” the Community was only allowed to take action when especially mentioned and clarified in the treaty.3 As there were no such clearly defined competencies concerning the environment, interpretations of various Articles of the Treaty had to be made.

Between 1957 and 1972 only nine directives and one regulation were adopted by the EEC. Although they had environmental impact they were not directly aimed at environmental issues.4 They were mostly based on Article 100 of the EEC Treaty, which allows the Community to act unanimously in order to harmonize different regulations of the member states to avoid disturbances of the common market. A further important Article was Article 235 which also enabled the Community to take action based on an unanimous vote although the Treaty doesn’t provide competencies.5 These Articles were used to establish directives and regulations until the legal basis for environmental action was set in the Single European Act (SEA) in 1987.

1.2. 1972 till 1987 - From consideration to legislation

After the emerge of environmental awareness in the EEC a series of Environmental Action Programs were introduced. They set a general framework and key areas of activity for environmental policy in the EEC, showing the intention of the European Commission to take environmental protection into serious consideration. Furthermore these action programs were meant to harmonize national environmental policies to avoid emerging of new barriers of trade.6 These programs were no legislation but only a declaration of intent of the Council of the European Communities.7

Nevertheless “during this period the Community adopted some 200 pieces of legislation, chiefly concerned with limiting pollution by introducing minimum standards, notably for waste management, water pollution and air pollution”8 all based on the interpretation of the above mentioned Articles in the Treaty. They were not very environmentally effective but represented political compromises. The harmonization of environmental policies of the national governments was much more difficult than harmonization for the Single European Market (SEM).9

The SEA is considered the most influential step forward in the history of developing the EU’s environmental policy. It included a specific chapter on the environment (Articles 130r to 130t) which gave the Community explicit powers in the environmental field for the first time.

To

- preserve, protect and improve environmental quality
- contribute towards human health
- ensure a prudent and rational use of natural resources

was their intention (Article 130r SEA).

The actions were based on

- “prevention” principle
- “damage repaired at source” principle
- “polluter pays” principle
- and the integration of environmental protection into all Community policies.10

Furthermore qualified majority voting was introduced for measures concerning the harmonization of policy relating to the SEM (Article 100a).11 Also the principle of subsidiarity was introduced, which enables the Community to take action, if environmental objectives ‘can be attained better at Community level than at the level of the individual member states’ (Article 130r).12 According to these changes member states are only allowed to have different environmental policies, if their national standards are higher (Article 130t).13

1.3. 1987 till 1999 - Improving legislation

Environmental protection was still facing development and change in the years after its introduction into the Treaty. 1987 the strategy of sustainability came up after the publication of the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Report). Also the fifth EAP was declared, which set a long-term strategy for environmental protection “Towards Sustainability” in combination with the introduction of measures such as eco-taxes or tradable permits.14 The SEA was revised during 1991 which ended in the Maastricht Treaty 1992. This Treaty was once again revised during 1996 and led to the Treaty of Amsterdam 1997. Today another revised version of the Treaties is about to be ratified, the Treaty of Nice, which will not be examined in this paper.

1.3.1. Changes in the Maastricht Treaty

Environmental protection gained importance as it was introduced into the preamble as well as into the catalogue of activities in Article 3. Article 2 now also explicitly mentions “sustainable development” as one of the tasks of the Community.15

The principle of subsidiarity was extended to the entire policy of the European Community, not only for environmental concerns, as it was introduced to the Articles B and 3b.16 It allows Community action to be taken for areas which are not its exclusive competence, when it can achieve objectives more effectively than the Member states. It has become a general principle for all decisions.

Article 100a no longer contains the call for qualified majority voting, but refers to Article 189b in which qualified majority voting is asked for, unless the Treaty provides different regulations. 100a is one of the most important normative rules for environmental policies. It is directly connected to the development of the SEM by referring to Article 7a and this way subsidiarity is of no concern for policies based on this Article.17 By referring to the procedures regulated in Article 189 the European Parliament gains the right to influence the process of launching environmental policies. Which is quite important as the Parliament is considered to be the most environmentally concerned institution of the EC.

The objectives and principles of Article 130r haven’t been changed but “promotion of measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems”18 was added. This is furthermore strengthened by the permission given in chapter 4 to cooperate internationally. Also the objective of aiming at a high level of protection was introduced.

As mentioned above Article 130s too has changed the voting procedure principally from unanimous to qualified majority voting by now referring to the procedures of Article 189c. But unanimous voting is still necessary for certain measures such as taxes or measures concerning land use. Furthermore Article 130s provides an explicit legal basis for EAP’s which are also adopted in accordance with the procedures of Article 189b (qualified majority voting). Financing and implementation of environmental policies is regulated as a concern of all member states and financial support for less developed member states is made possible by the Cohesion Fund.19

The possibility for member states to have more stringent policies than those agreed upon in the Community is laid down in Article 130t.

All in all the most important changes concerned mostly the decision-making process of environmental policies.

1.3.2. Changes in the Treaty of Amsterdam

The Treaty of Amsterdam did not dramatically change the basis of environmental policies but gave the environmental gains of Maastricht a more stringent meaning and greater importance.20

Now Article 2 not only contains the strategy of sustainable development, but also explicitly connects it with “a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment” as a task of the Community.

By introduction of Article 6, the principle of integration of environmental protection into all policies (previous in Article 130r) and the strategy of sustainable development are given a higher importance by making them general principles of the EC.

The other text parts of the previous Articles 100, 100a and 130r - 130t are not changed, they are only renumbered into 94, 95 and 174-176.21 Decision making process still refers to qualified majority voting by referring to Article 251 (ex 189b), which further strengthens the role of the European Parliament, but keeps the same exceptions for unanimous vote.

2. Areas of policy

The number of legislative acts which the EU has adopted since 1972 exceeds 300 by far. Legislations available to the EU are recommendations, directives and regulations, of which the regulation is directly binding for each member state and the recommendation is the least binding. Directives are the most flexible form, as each member state can decide which measure is to be introduced in order to enforce legislation. All are based on the above mentioned Articles in the Treaty.

As most legislative acts of the EU are performed in the areas of water protection, air pollution and waste management and as these areas are most significant to environmental protection, they will be subject to the further examination.

2.1. Water protection

Several directives have been adopted by the member states to introduce water quality standards mostly based on the principle of emission limits. From 1995, the Community began to adopt a more global approach concentrating on the affected medium. By introducing a framework directive for water (Directive 2000/60/EC)22 several directives on water quality were replaced, namely those on surface water intended to be used as drinking water (Directive 75/440/EEC), ground water (Directive 80/68/EEC), on measurement and sampling frequencies (Directive 79/869/EEC), on exchange of information on fresh water, on water for fish farms and shellfish culture (Directive 79/923/EEC). Furthermore it is intended to complement other directives concerning certain water pollutions (e.g. Directive 91/676/EEC, Directive 88/347/EEC) and waste water treatment (Directive 91/271/EEC).23

For further examination of process, Directive 2000/60/EC will be taken as example. Firstly as it is a directive member states can decide which measures will be taken for introducing and enforcing legislation. Establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy is the title explanation of the directive. It is based on Article 175 (1) of the Treaty establishing the European Community. For legislation based on the Articles 174-176 the principle of subsidiarity is to be followed. That is, the Community has to check whether the objectives can be achieved better by Community action. As the purpose of the directive is “to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater” a European-wide regulation seems more efficient as water does not only affect single states, e.g. rivers flow through several member states. Furthermore the directive bases its procedure on Article 251, which Article 175 already includes. Article 175 mentions exceptions for voting procedures of which one is “management of water resources”. In Article 251 qualified majority voting is the general procedure, but for the exceptions in Article 175 unanimous voting is requested. The directive sets objectives to be achieved and provides certain limits and aspects to be taken into account. All member states are obliged to implement its policy into their country legislation and to report implementation to the European Commission.

2.2. Air pollution

To achieve a significant reduction in air pollution national and international measures must be combined to reduce emission. In order to achieve the target set in Kyoto, the Community has approved a program on climate change. It gives priority to energy, transport, industry and research for application of measures.

Community legislation in this field is principally aimed at reducing industrial (Directive 2001/81/EC)24 and motor vehicle emissions (Directive 2001/27/EC).

“The strategy is:

- to reduce polluting emissions (catalytic converter, roadworthiness test);
- to reduce the fuel consumption of private cars (in collaboration with car manufacturers) (Directive 1999/94/EC);
- to promote clean vehicles (e.g. Directive 98/70/EC).”25

A framework directive on air quality was introduced in order to establish a common strategy for standards (Directive 1999/30/EC). It replaced several directives on quality standards for sulphur dioxide and particulates, on lead and nitrogen oxide. In order to improve air quality, a global strategy is created which aims on reducing the concentration of ozone in ambient air (Directive 2002/3/EC), setting optimal air quality limits and margins of tolerance, fixing national ceilings for other atmospheric pollutants (Directive 2001/81/EC), giving assessment procedures and reporting requirements (Directive 96/62/EC and Directive 91/692/EEC).26

Taking Directive 98/70/EC, relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels, closer into examination the first thing to mention is that it refers to Article 100a (95 in Amsterdam version) of the Treaty. This means its regulations are considered to have an influence on the functions of the Single European Market. As establishing the SEM is one of the core competencies of the EU, the principle of subsidiarity has not to be checked. The EU acts within the limits of the powers given to it by the Treaty. Article 100a calls for qualified majority voting, as it refers to the procedures of Article 251. The scope of the Directive is, to set technical specifications on health and environmental grounds for fuels to be used for vehicles equipped with positive-ignition and compression-ignition engines. The Directive prohibits the sale of certain fuels and directly gives definitions to the fuel sorts which can be sold, which is the point that influences the market. It is directed to all member states and obliges them to translate the requirements of the Directive into their laws. Furthermore they are to communicate the law text to the Commission.

2.3. Waste management

“Community policy on waste management involves three complementary strategies:

- eliminating waste at source by improving product design;
- encouraging the recycling and re-use of waste;
- reducing pollution caused by waste incineration.“27

Several directives regulate the collection, disposal, recycling and processing of different types of waste (Directive 2000/76/EC, Directive 96/59/EC, Directive 94/67/EC)28. Legislation on packaging waste (Directive 94/62/EC), batteries (Directive 91/157/EEC) and mineral oils (Directive 75/439/EEC) has also been introduced.

The responsibility of the producer is the main objective of today’s EU legislation within this area. For instance, the directive of September 2000 on end-of-life vehicles introduces a system of collecting such vehicles at the manufacturer's expense (Directive 2000/5/EC). This directive is based on Articles 175 and 251 of the Treaty. Its aim is to prevent waste from vehicles and reduce the disposal of waste. It sets standards for the prevention, collection, treatment, reuse and recovery of waste from vehicles, especially end-of-life vehicles and their components. Member states are obliged to implement the directive to their law and report to the Commission.

3. Conclusion

The extent to which the EU is entitled to launch environmental policies depends on the interpretation of the articles in the Treaty29 and the voting process in the Commission. For each proposal it is to be examined whether the market functions are affected, if subsidiarity is to be checked, which Articles are to be referred on and which procedure is to be applied.

For policies based on Article 175 the principle of subsidiarity is to be approved, which means to decide whether the member states can fulfill a certain objective or whether the Community can act more efficiently. Policies referring to Article 95 can be brought into legislation without checking subsidiarity, as concerning aspects involving the SEM the Community has priority competence. In order to achieve the most efficient environmental policy, member states and the Community are obliged to cooperate.

Implementation and enforcement of legislation can be opposed by the member states. Whether a directive or regulation should be introduced is then to be decided by the European Court of Justice.

A general answer to the question to which extent the EU can launch environmental policies is not possible, as each case has to be examined individually. The development of environmental awareness in the EU in the last decades has brought some improvement but certainly a lot of possibilities still are open to regulation. Certain important measures such as environmental taxes are easily to be blocked, as unanimous vote is hard to achieve in these topics. Directives, regulations and recommendations will represent political compromises.

Literature Index

Books:

Barnes, Pamela M. and Ian G

Environmental Policy in the European Union Cambridge, 1999

Johnson, Debra and Turner, Colin

European Business, Policy challenges for the new commercial environment London and New York, 2001

Schmitz, Stefan

Die Europäische Union als Umweltunion Berlin, 1996

Treaty on European Union,

(Maastricht Treaty)

Luxembourg 1992

Wepler, Claus

Europäische Umweltpolitik, Die Umweltunion als Chance für die materielle und institutionelle Weiterentwicklung der europäischen Integration - Dissertation Marburg, 1999

Internet sites:

European Communities,

http://www.europa.eu.int/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l28066.htm, 05.05.2002

http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/treaties/dat/ec_cons_treaty_en.pdf., 05.05.02

http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/ind/en_analytical_index_15.html, 05.05.02

http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_15102020.html, 05.05.02

http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_15102030.html, 05.05.02

http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_15103030.html. 05.05.02

[...]


1 see Wepler, C., Europäische Umweltpolitik, Die Umweltunion als Chance für die materielle und institutionelle Weiterentwicklung der europäischen Integration - Dissertation, Marburg, 1999, p. 140

2 see same

3 see Schmitz, S., Die Europäische Union als Umweltunion, Berlin, 1996, p. 33

4 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, p. 25

5 see Wepler, C., Europäische Umweltpolitik, Die Umweltunion als Chance für die materielle und institutionelle Weiterentwicklung der europäischen Integration - Dissertation, Marburg, 1999, pp. 176 f.

6 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, pp. 1 and 25

7 see same p. 28

8 http://www.europa.eu.int/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l28066.htm, 05.05.2002

9 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, p. 47

10 see Johnson, D .and Turner, C., European Business, Policy challenges for the new commercial environment, London and New York, 2001, p. 254

11 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, p. 47

12 see Johnson, D .and Turner, C., European Business, Policy challenges for the new commercial environment, London and New York, 2001, p. 255

13 see Wepler, C., Europäische Umweltpolitik, Die Umweltunion als Chance für die materielle und institutionelle Weiterentwicklung der europäischen Integration - Dissertation, Marburg, 1999, p. 189

14 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, pp.48 f.

15 see Schmitz, S., Die Europäische Union als Umweltunion, Berlin, 1996, pp.121 f.

16 see same p. 124

17 see Schmitz, S., Die Europäische Union als Umweltunion, Berlin, 1996, pp. 125 f.

18 Treaty on European Union, Luxembourg 1992, Article 130s

19 see same, pp. 128 f.

20 see Johnson, D .and Turner, C., European Business, Policy challenges for the new commercial environment, London and New York, 2001, p. 256

21 see http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/treaties/dat/ec_cons_treaty_en.pdf., 05.05.02

22 For all directives mentioned in this essay concerning water protection see http://www.europa.eu.int/eur- lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_15102020.html, 05.05.02

23 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, p. 53

24 For all directives mentioned in this essay concerning air pollution see http://www.europa.eu.int/eur- lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_15102030.html, 05.05.02

25 http://www.europa.eu.int/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l28066.htm, 05.05.2002

26 see Barnes, P. M. and I. G, Environmental Policy in the European Union, Cambridge, 1999, p. 54

27 http://www.europa.eu.int/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l28066.htm, 05.05.2002

28 For all directives mentioned in this essay concerning waste management see http://www.europa.eu.int/eur- lex/en/lif/reg/en_register_15103030.html. 05.05.02

29 see chapter 1

17 of 17 pages

Details

Title
Environmental Policies of the European Union
College
University of Applied Sciences Mainz
Course
European Integration
Grade
1,3 (A)
Author
Year
2002
Pages
17
Catalog Number
V107242
File size
434 KB
Language
English
Tags
Environmental, Policies, European, Union, Integration
Quote paper
Christine Alter (Author), 2002, Environmental Policies of the European Union, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/107242

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