Environmental Liability Directive – Evaluation

The Environmental Liability Directive (Directive 2004/35/EC) aims to establish a framework of environmental liability, based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, to prevent and remedy environmental damage.

The ‘polluter pays’ principle is a simple idea at the core of EU environmental policy, those responsible for environmental damage should pay to cover the costs.

Particularly, the Directive defines environmental damage as damage to protected species and natural habitats, to water and to soil. Operators carrying out certain clearly defined dangerous activities fall under strict liability (no need to prove fault), while other defined activities are subject to fault-based liability. An operator that has caused damage under the Directive must bear the costs of necessary preventive or remedial measures.

Article 18(2) of the Directive requires the European Commission to carry out its evaluation before April 30, 2023. This evaluation will assess whether the Directive is fit for purpose and any shortcomings it may have. It will also reflect on calls from the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors to strengthen its application, as well as address certain interlinked challenges highlighted in the European Green Deal. The EU Action Plan ‘Towards a Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil’ also announces the Commission’s intention to evaluate the Directive in order to improve compliance by all relevant national authorities with EU pollution prevention laws.

The aim of this public consultation is to allow all citizens and stakeholders to provide their views on the experience gained in applying the Directive, notably as regards its effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence, and EU added value, and thus inform the evaluation process.

Operators subject to the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) obligations, business associations, insurance and other financial security providers and associations thereof, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as competent authorities are invited to partake in this online consultation and provide their input by August 4, 2022.