Date of publication: January 13, 2014
Recognising the implementation gap
The current implementation gap in Europe is undermining the creation of a level playing-field. Difficult situations in European national economies has led to cuts in resources and overburdened persons working in environmental administrations and therefore the quality of the environmental permitting and inspections is comprised. This will (eventually) lead up to inadequate/insufficient implementation of Community environmental legislation and causing risks for human health and environment. Therefore more needs to be done to strengthen implementation and to secure the necessary resources to achieve a better environment in Europe and to avoid the increasing social and economic costs of non-implementation. There needs to be more systematic assessment of the real implementation problems that are being experienced on the ground and practitioners should be involved in identifying and implementing practical approaches and solutions to the problems that are encountered.
Simpler and more enforceable policy and legislation
Practitioners can play a key role in developing legislation to ensure that it is practically applicable and enforceable. More systematic approaches and tools should be used to involve practitioners and make better use of their practical expertise. More effort needs to be put into streamlining and simplifying regulatory requirements to reduce bureaucracy and make it easier for businesses to do the right thing. There is room for more transparency of environmental governance in order to improve participation of stakeholders, civil society and citizens. There is a need to simplify, streamline and make more accessible the information needed to support better compliance with environmental law.
Greater support for implementing organisations
Improving coordination between different actors is a clear priority. We should seek opportunities for closer and more effective collaboration between networks across Europe, between individual countries, and also between the relevant authorities within countries. Peer review has proven to be a very effective mechanism for identifying and finding solutions to implementation problems. We encourage the greater and wider use of peer review approaches at both national, European and international levels. There is a clear need for more and better training of practitioners. We need to identify priority areas for training of regulators, inspectors, prosecutors, judges and ombudsmen, including joint training programmes, where appropriate. There is a continuing need to develop and embed methods and tools to help implementing organisations to prioritise and target their effort to deliver the best outcomes for people and the environment with their limited resources. We encourage the development of fora to promote innovative thinking and approaches on how the whole implementation cycle could be made more efficient and effective, delivering greater environmental benefits, improving competitiveness and supporting a greener economy in Europe.
As a conclusion John Seager, Chair of IMPEL, stated that IMPEL urges decision-makers at European level and in individual countries to consider these recommendations and take action to deliver the greater benefits that will flow from better implementation. Networks have an important role in taking forward these actions and IMPEL encourages countries to participate actively in them.
New strategic direction
One of the follow-up actions currently undertaken by IMPEL is the development of a new strategic direction for the future of its network. By the adoption of a strategic document, IMPEL describes its focus, priorities and new structure of the network for the next few years and how it will adapt to meet the challenges ahead. This includes for example the establishment of five new expert teams replacing the two existing clusters.