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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

EU Commission: Environmental reporting: ensuring legal clarity and improving transparency

Environmental reporting: ensuring legal clarity and improving transparency

On 4 October, the Council (EU ambassadors) agreed on a negotiating position on a decision repealing the standardised reporting directive (directive 91/692/EEC) and amending 6 related legal acts. This decision is essential for ensuring legal clarity, enhancing transparency and reducing the administrative burden in the field of environmental reporting.

The standardised reporting directive is the main piece of legislation currently in place which aims at streamlining the reporting obligations of all EU environmental legislation. However, it does not set out all reporting requirements, and over the years most of its provisions have become obsolete.

Specifically, the directive refers to a total of 28 environmental acts. Other legislative acts make use of the directive as well. Of them, one regulation, 9 directives and 23 decisions remain in force despite lacking any legal effect.

"This is an important step towards making environmental reporting clearer and more efficient. Reducing the administrative burden is one of our overarching goals and outdated legislation has no place in the EU legal system. We must ensure that all our legislation is "fit for purpose" and to that end, will move swiftly together with the European Parliament to reach an agreement on this file."

Siim Kiisler, Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Estonia

This decision is part of the standardised reporting directive "repeal package" presented by the Commission in 2016. It includes two other initiatives which will also contribute to the clean-up of unnecessary legislation. 

Overall, the Council supports the proposed decision and agrees on the main elements put forward by the Commission. In terms of content, the proposal aims at adapting the comitology provisions of a number of acts to the Treaty of Lisbon and the current interinstitutional agreement.

The positions of the two co-legislators are very close, and the Council looks forward to negotiations with the European Parliament with a view to reaching a quick and smooth first reading agreement.

Next steps

Negotiations will start in the near future given that the European Parliament already agreed its position on the file during the plenary of 13 September 2017, following the vote of the ENVI Committee on 11 July 2017. A trilogue is likely to be scheduled for November.

Upon the deal's closure and its acceptance by both institutions, the decision will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, as specified on its provisions. Nevertheless, in order to ensure full consistency and avoid legal gaps, the actual publication of this decision will be put on hold so that it enters into force at the same time as the legislative acts of the Waste package, which are currently being discussed by both legislators.

Background

In its 2014 communication on the regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT), the Commission pledged to work on concrete proposals to remove obsolete legislation related to environmental reporting. 

Over the next two years, the Commission adopted a communication on better regulation in May 2015 and launched a REFIT fitness check for environmental monitoring and reporting in its work programme for 2016, which is ongoing.

As a result of those commitments, the Commission proposed a standardised reporting directive "repeal package" on 15 December 2016, consisting of three initiatives, the third of which is this decision. The first takes the form of a Commission communication identifying a series of superfluous implementing acts and the second proposes the repeal of two implementing decisions.

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