REVISITING THE ROLE OF EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF EUROPEAN UNION ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
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Over the past thirty years European Union environmental policy has greatly expanded. Overall, more than three hundred pieces of environmental legislation have been adopted. For many years the European Commission was primarily preoccupied with the introduction of new legislative initiatives. However, progressively inadequate implementation and enforcement became the greatest challenge of European Union environmental policy. Following the final assessment of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, which concluded that the enforcement of EU environmental law is insufficient, the problem remains as pertinent as ever. This study critically analyzes the institutional, procedural and remedial framework provided for by the European Union Institutions to safeguard the effective enforcement of Union environmental legislation at national level. It focuses on the role of three European Institutions, namely the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Union legislature in the enforcement of EU environmental legislation. The thesis identifies relevant areas of concern in the exercise of the Institutions’ role pertaining to enforcement. Despite certain limitations to which the doctrines of direct effect, consistent interpretation and State liability in damages have been made subject, their utility as enforcement mechanisms has overall been safeguarded by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has granted national courts the necessary tools to advance the effectiveness of private enforcement of EU environmental legislation. The thesis criticises the Commission’s new enforcement strategy for focusing on formal implementation of EU environmental law, while neglecting the monitoring of application on the ground. Regarding the legislative intervention of the Union, notably in the areas of environmental liability and criminal enforcement, the thesis argues that proper justification for EU action has not been provided and that the stated purpose of the established regimes has not been attained.
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