April 23
2021
Juan Jonás
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7th April 2021
Consumer, Health & Environment

Commission publishes Guidelines on the definition of ‘environmental damage’ under Environmental Liability Directive

Official publication has been made of a Commission Notice (2021/C 118/01) with Guidelines providing a common understanding of the term ‘environmental damage’ as defined in Article 2 of Directive 2004/35 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage. 

Following an evaluation of the Directive undertaken in 2016, the Commission concluded that its implementation was hampered by significant lack of uniform application of key concepts, in particular concepts related to environmental damage.

The Guidelines take stock of all aspects of the definition of ‘environmental damage’. First, they examine the legal and wider regulatory context in which the definition is relevant. Second, they provide a general definition of ‘damage’ and ‘environmental damage’, before looking at three separate categories of environmental damage, which are ‘damage to protected species and natural habitats’, ‘water damage’ and ‘land damage’. 

After drawing attention to the range of adverse effects encompassed in the definition of environmental damage, the Guidelines conclude that such range, combined with the range of occupational activities and damage factors that may be linked to adverse effects, imply that competent authorities will often need to have access to specialist knowledge, including expert judgment, in order to assess the significance of said effects. 

The Guidelines are addressed to Member States, competent authorities, operators, natural and legal persons and providers of financial security, all of whom have roles under the Directive. 

Read the published Commission Notice Guidelines here.

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