The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive requires Member States to carry out environmental impact assessments of certain public and private projects, before they are authorised, where it is believed that the projects are likely to have a significant impact on the environment. The objective is to identify the environmental impacts and assess whether prevention or mitigation is appropriate.

The European Commission has identified gaps and deficiencies in the ten Member States' laws and has therefore initiated infringement procedures against them. It is worth to be mentioned that EIA Directive also gives important participation rights to citizens. The public must be consulted and its comments taken into account when a decision is taken on whether to authorise the project.

Stavros Dimas, the EU Commissioner in charge of Environmental policy, stated: “EU citizens and the European Parliament regularly express concerns about how environmental impact assessment is carried out. Improving the national and regional legislation on this will reduce the potential for grievances to arise and protect Europe's environment more effectively.”

Following the Commission’s evaluation for the implementation of the Directive, ten Member States among them Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands and Poland, have failed to fully comply. Different grounds for non-compliance were identified in each Member State. Common problems include not requiring certain project categories to undergo EIAs and a failure to make adequate provision for screening projects to see if an EIA is needed. In particular, smaller projects were not adequately addressed.