Better implementation for the future – how can IMPEL make a contribution?

There are several ways IMPEL can help strengthen the implementation of environmental law in Europe, including:

  • helping countries get to compliance more quickly, for example, by sharing knowledge, skills and good practices, and carrying out peer reviews (IRIs);
  • helping implementing organisations use their limited resources more effectively, for example, by producing technical guidance and promoting the use of risk-based approaches to target effort;
  • coordinating action between countries, for example, in the enforcement of regulations to tackle illegal trans-frontier movements of waste;
  • facilitating communication between different actors and networks, for example, prosecutors, judges and ombudsmen;
  • informing policy with practical experience and expertise.

Understanding and addressing implementation gaps

We need to develop a better understanding of the practical problems and gaps in the implementation of EU legislation so that we can identify how IMPEL can help to bridge them. This understanding will help to shape work programme priorities for the future. Work has been carried out to do this including; performing regular implementation challenge assessment reviews, assessing the priorities in the 7th EAP, consulting with the European Commission and the European Environment Agency and other stakeholders including NGOs and business groups, and carrying out a survey of our members to gain their perspective on implementation problems and solutions.

This activity also relates to the European Commission’s smarter regulation policy and the Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme (REFIT). With REFIT, the Commission is taking action to make EU law more ‘fit for purpose’: to simplify and reduce regulatory costs while maintaining benefits.

How we work

IMPEL’s main activity is carrying out projects. For each project a project plan is drafted, the so called Terms of Reference (ToR). The ToR describes the project both in terms of objectives and outputs. It includes provisions for the quality review of the project and a dissemination strategy of the project results. A joint management of projects by environmental authorities from different IMPEL member countries is encouraged as well as a broad participation to project workshops from all IMPEL members.

In addition to projects, IMPEL organises conferences on implementation and enforcement of EU Environmental Law. On average over 200 experts in permitting, inspection, enforcement and policy- and lawmaking from all IMPEL Member countries and the European Commission participate in these conferences. The conferences are used to disseminate IMPEL’s products to a wider audience. They also offer the possibility to discuss new trends in the different countries, to explore newly developed working methods and tools and to discuss the practicability and enforceability of upcoming legislation. The conferences provide a forum for representatives of the European Industry and Non-Governmental Organisations to discuss with the environmental authorities of Europe opportunities for improving the implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law and produce ideas for new IMPEL projects and activities.

Engagement with external partners

From the mid 1990’s onwards the Commission and IMPEL worked closely together. The transformation of the network into an independent international association of environmental authorities brought about the need to reshape IMPEL’s relationship with the European Commission. On 15 September 2009 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between IMPEL and the Commission which recognises IMPEL’s role with regard to improving the implementation and enforcement of EU Environmental law and describes the cooperation between IMPEL and the Commission in this field.The European Commission has remained an important sponsor of IMPEL. From 2008 the Commission has supported IMPEL financially through the LIFE+ Regulation.

In the area of international shipments of waste, IMPEL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Basel , Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat and is it a member of the Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE).

In December 2015 IMPEL also formalised its cooperation with the THEMIS Network by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

At the second EU Environmental Enforcement Networks meeting in Oxford (United Kingdom) in September 2017, IMPEL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE) and Envicrimenet. This MoU is a clear signal of intent by the three networks to work together to strengthen the effective implementation and enforcement of European environmental and related criminal law and the compliance chain as a whole.

IMPEL also actively engages with other strategic partners such as and the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE), the Network of the Heads of European Environment Agencies (EPA Network) the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI).

Further reading

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