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Institutional Development

As mentioned earlier, the Commission is responsible for the development of EU law through drawing up legislative proposals. It is also responsible for monitoring how Member States apply EU law, and whether the intended objectives are achieved.183 Certain legal acts specifically require that the Member States shall report to the Commission the experience they have gained from implementing the legal act, and the Commission shall propose possible amendments if necessary.184

The main responsibility for pursuing environmental issues within the Commission lies with the Directorate-General for the Environment (DG ENV). This directorate has some 450 employees, fewer than those in the environmental departments of some Member States. 185 Given its tasks, the DG ENV is a very small organisation. Despite this, the EU manages to produce a considerable number of new or updated legal acts in the field of environment protection. However, it can be questioned whether the resources available to follow up the twenty-eight Member States’ implementation of the 200 or more environmental legislative acts for which DG ENV is responsible even approach a reasonable level.

Environmental issues are dealt with also in other parts of the Commission, not least in the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA). This was established in 2010 through a decision to separate the responsibility for climate questions from the DG ENV and to place it in a separate DG. Some 160 persons work in DG [1] [2]

CLIMA. Their tasks are, inter alia, to develop and implement the EU’s system for trade in emission rights for greenhouse gases, and to coordinate EU participation in international climate negotiations.[3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] Environmental issues are also dealt with in the Directorate-General for Fisheries (DG Mare), which is responsible for the common fisheries policy and the integrated marine policy, and in the Directorate- General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), which is responsible for the common agricultural policy (CAP).

Other important actors for the implementation of EU environmental policy are the European Environmental Agency (EEA) and its partnership network, the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET), which was established by the Council in 19 9 0.187 The Agency’s main tasks are to provide the EU and the Member States with the objective information and technical and scientific support that they need to carry out an effective environmental policy, to assess the results of environmental protection measures, and to inform the public of the state of the environment. 188

The EEA coordinates the activities of EIONET, which consists of national environment information networks and contact focal points in the Member States.189 The said activities should make it possible to collect information needed to describe the present and future situation of the environment’s quality, the burden it bears, and its sensitivity. 190 The Agency is legally autonomous, but maintains close relations with the EU institutions and with the Member States. It is headed by a Director-General, and has a board consisting of one representative from each Member State, two representatives from the Commission, and two scientists appointed by the EP.m The Agency’s headquarters are in Copenhagen.

At Member State level, too, a structure has developed to facilitate the correct implementation of EU environmental legal acts. This structure consists of several networks of representatives of national authorities. The oldest is the EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL),192 which is an informal association of the environmental authorities of the European Union Member States, acceding, and candidate countries of the EU, EEA, and EFTA countries. IMPEL was established in 1992. Its informal character is important and constantly emphasised. However, its structure resembles that of any other international organisation. Its highest organ is the General Assembly, consisting of representatives of forty-eight environmental authorities in thirty-four countries. The General Assembly’s main task is to determine the policy of the Association, and decide on the budget and working programmes. IMPEL has also a board, which is its executive body and responsible for its management. The IMPEL Secretariat takes care of the network’s communications. (See further section 5.3.)

Two more relevant networks, established on the private initiative of judges and prosecutors, are the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE),[10] [11] [12] established in 2004, and the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE),i94 established in 2012. IMPEL, EUFJE, and ENPE have close relations with the Commission and consider their work and function as a significant component of the overall efforts for effective implementation of the Union’s environmental legal acts.

  • [1] 8 Ibid, para 48. 179 See, among others, Case C-127/07 Arcelor Atlantique (n 177) and Case T-263/07 Estonia vCommission ECLI:EU:T:2009:351. 180 Case C-110/03 Belgium v Commission ECLI:EU:C:2005:223, paras 30—31. 181 See, for instance, Case C-226/08 Stadt Papenburg ECLI:EU:C:2010:10, para 45.
  • [2] 2 CaseC-296/01 Commission v France ECLI:EU:C:2003:626, para 55. 183 Article 17(1) TEU. 184 See, for instance Dir 2004/35/EC (n 31), Art 18; Dir 2009/31/EC (n 38), Arts 27 and 38. 185 Staff figures of DG ENV at (visited 10January 2016).
  • [3] Website of DG CLIMA, (visited 20 December 2015).
  • [4] Council Regulation (EEC) No 1210/90 on the establishment of the European EnvironmentAgency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network [1990] OJ L 120/1,which was replaced by Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Councilon the European Environment Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network [2009] OJ L 126/13.
  • [5] Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European
  • [6] Environment Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network [2009]OJ L 126/13, Art 1.
  • [7] 189 Ibid, Art 4. 190 Ibid, Art 3.
  • [8] Ibid, Arts 8 and 9. Even European States that are not members of the EU may have representatives in the Agency’s board and network. This is the case of Iceland, Norway, and Turkey. See (visited 10 October 2015).
  • [9] (visited 10 December 2015).
  • [10] <> (visited 10 December 2015).
  • [11] (visited 10 December 2015).
  • [12] Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying downcommon provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, theCohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritimeand Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund,the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund andrepealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 [2013] OJ L 347/320.
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