EU to update EIA Directive

26th October 2012

Related Topics

Related tags

  • EU



The European Commission has today outlined its plans to change EU legislation on environmental impact assessments (EIAs).

The commission says the proposals for an updated EIA Directive – to replace Directive 2011/92/EU – are intended to lighten administrative burdens and make it easier to assess the potential impacts of major projects, without weakening existing environmental safeguards.

It also claims that current levels of environmental protection will be strengthened, and that businesses should enjoy a more harmonised regulatory framework.

“For the past 25 years, the EIA Directive has helped ensure that environmental considerations are integrated into decision-making for projects. This has improved the sustainability of countless projects. But loopholes need to be fixed, in particular concerning the quality of the assessment process, to make sure that projects that will affect the environment are properly assessed,” said environment commissioner Janez Potočnik.

EU figures show that there, on average, are up to 26,000 EIAs across the bloc each year, and that the duration of the process is generally more than 11 months. There is mounting concern among businesses that the existing process is too slow and costly, while the commission acknowledges the current Directive lacks quality standards, does not sufficiently cover emerging environmental issues, such as climate change and resource efficiency, and is poorly implemented across the EU.

Planned changes to the Directive include adjusting the procedure that determines whether EIA is required, so that only projects with significant environmental impacts are subject to an assessment. The commission claims this will mean projects adapted to reduce their impacts and small–scale projects with local impacts will be approved more swiftly at lower cost, leaving authorities more time to focus on assessments of major projects with large-scale environmental impacts.

The new Directive will also require authorities to consider impacts from alternative proposals and to clearly explain the reasons behind their decisions.

Proposals to streamline the various stages of the assessment include introducing timeframes and a new mechanism to ease the process when several EIAs are required and several authorities involved. According to the commission, these changes should provide more legal certainty and accelerate the process, without compromising the quality of the assessment.

Josh Fothergill, IEMA’s lead on EIA, commented: “We welcome the commission’s proposals for updating EIA Directive and I am particularly pleased to see the institute’s contribution to this process recognised by the commission. This is a further example of the influence and the role IEMA members play at shaping the development of key tools used by environment professionals.”


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

New guidance maps out journey to digital environmental assessment

IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network is delighted to have published A Roadmap to Digital Environmental Assessment.

2nd April 2024

Read more

Lisa Pool on how IEMA is shaping a sustainable future with impact assessment

27th November 2023

Read more

IEMA responded in September to the UK government’s consultation on the details of the operational reforms it is looking to make to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) consenting process as put forward in the NSIP reform action plan (February 2023).

24th November 2023

Read more

Members of IEMA’s Impact Assessment Network Steering Group have published the 17th edition of the Impact Assessment Outlook Journal, which provides a series of thought pieces on the policy and practice of habitats regulations assessment (HRA).

26th September 2023

Read more

In July, we published the long-awaited update and replacement of one of IEMA’s first published impact assessment guidance documents from 1993, Guidelines for the Environmental Assessment of Road Traffic.

1st August 2023

Read more

Are we losing sight of its intended purpose and what does the future hold for EIA? Jo Beech, Tiziana Bartolini and Jessamy Funnell report.

15th June 2023

Read more

Luke Barrows and Alfie Byron-Grange look at the barriers to adoption of digital environmental impacts assessments

1st June 2023

Read more

Susan Evans and Helen North consider how Environmental Statements can be more accessible and understandable

1st June 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close