EP Environment Committee vote on EIA Directive ‘a breath of fresh air’

EEB Reactions

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has today voted to strengthen proposed changes to the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessments. Environmental NGOs welcomed the outcome of this vote which would broaden the scope of the directive, close some of the loopholes that allowed developers to avoid an EIA, foresee the monitoring of the projects during all the project phases including post-closure phases, require the assessment of relevant alternative projects and include provisions for better information and a meaningful participation of the public.

The NGOs particularly welcome that the adopted text explicitly includes “the use of interim measures to ensure the project does not start before the review process is completed.”

Shale-gas exploitation is now included in Annex I of the Directive “regardless of the amount extracted” thus making an EIA obligatory for projects of any size. The vote also supports strengthening the provisions to cover underground and subsoil impacts. 

Environmental and health protection are often closely linked and the requirement for project descriptions to include risk to the health of the population concerned is another positive addition to the directive.

Welcoming the outcome of the Parliament’s debate, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said "In these times of austerity, there has been a misguided attempt in some Member States to try to use the economic crisis as an excuse to cut corners when it comes to environmental rules – misguided, because in the long term neglecting the environment will come at the expense of the economy. In this context, the Environment Committee’s vote is a breath of fresh air.

Thomas Alge, Chairman of Justice & Environment said: “Numerous stakeholders believe the updated EIA will result in additional burden and costs, yet quite the opposite is true. The new Directive will be more efficient and will overcome many practical hurdles to move towards a healthier environment and more transparency.

With today’s vote the Environment Committee created the conditions for the adoption of a significantly improved directive in plenary.

[1] Annex I contains the list of types of projects for which an EIA is mandatory.


Anaïs Berthier, ClientEarth: tel: +32 (0)2 808 34 68

Regina Schneider, EEB: tel: +32 (0)2 289 10 95

Szilvia Szilagyi, J&E: tel: +36 (1)322 84 62