Improving implementation and enforcement of environmental impact assessment - a priority for the Energy Community 

9 April 2021

Yesterday, the Energy Community Secretariat launched the first meeting of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Working Group, a subgroup of the Environmental Task Force. The aim of the EIA Working Group is to identify and address challenges in the transposition and implementation of the EIA Directive. The Working Group will support the Contracting Parties in the drafting and revision of EIA related legislation and improve institutional capacities in the preparation and monitoring of EIA procedures. It will also serve as a platform to share know-how and best practices among the Contracting Parties.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive aims to identify and assess environmental consequences of projects prior to a building or operation permit being granted. Projects in energy generation and transmission/distribution as well as storage of gas and petrochemical products are covered by the Directive.

As we are seeing more and more EIA related complaints, it is clear that serious efforts are needed for proper implementation and enforcement of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. The Energy Community Secretariat wants to resolve the challenges in a cooperative rather than a confrontational manner and is committed to assist the Contracting Parities in improving environmental protection and ensuring that only sustainable energy projects are given the green light. We sincerely hope that the EIA Working Group will help the Contracting Parties to improve environmental impact assessment procedures,” said Deputy Director and Legal Counsel of the Energy Community Secretariat, Dirk Buschle.

The Contracting Parties welcomed the creation of the EIA Working Group. The need for assistance in the preparation and revision of legislation, specifically in the case of transboundary impact assessment, was emphasized. At its next meeting in September 2021, the Group will adopt its work programme, which will be published on the Energy Community website.

The meeting also focused on the implementation of the amending EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, which introduces better quality control of EIA reports and decisions and legally binding timeframes and penalties.