The Decision ‘ratifies the Paris Agreement on climate change on behalf of all European Union (EU) countries. The agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, including by limiting warming to well below 2oC’ [Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu].

The objective of the Directive is ‘to ensure a high level of protection of the environment and of human health, through the establishment of minimum requirements for the environmental impact assessment of projects’, as well as to strenghten ‘public access to information and security’ and ‘ensure a high level of protection of the environment and human health’ [Source: Recitals n. 18, 22, 41].

‘The 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) will guide European environment policy until 2020. The new Plan identifies nine priority objectives and sets out a long-term vision of where it wants the EU to be by 2050. Guided by the long-term vision of “In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits”, the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) identifies 3 priority action areas for the EU: 1) Natural capital (…); 2) Resource-efficient economy (…); Healthy environment of healthy people (…). (…) The EAP’s priority objectives 4 to 7 (the four ‘I’s) aim to help Europe deliver on the first three goals through: better implementation of legislation; better information by improving the knowledge base; more and wiser investment for environment and climate policy; full integration of environmental requirements and considerations into other policies. The programme’s final two priority objectives are: sustainable cities; tackling international challenges (environmental and climate) [Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu].

This Decision ‘sets forth a general European Union action programme in the field of the environment for the period up to 31 December 2020, called the 7th Environment Action programme. This programme is based on the precautionary principle, the principles of preventive action and of rectification of pollution at source and the polluter-pays principle. It has the following priority objectives: (a) to protect, conserve and enhance the European Union’s natural capital; (b) to turn the European Union into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy; (c) to safeguard the European Union’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and well-being; (d) to maximise the benefits of European Union environment legislation by improving implementation; (e) to improve the knowledge and evidence base for European Union environment policy; (f) to secure investment for environment and climate policy and address environmental externalities; (g) to improve environmental integration and policy coherence; (h) to enhance the sustainability of the European Union’s cities; and (i) to increase the European Union’s effectiveness in addressing international environmental and climate-related challenges’ [Source:  http://www.ecolex.org/].

‘This Directive lays down rules for the prevention of major accidents which involve dangerous substances, and the limitation of their consequences for human health and the environment, with a view to ensuring a high level of protection throughout the Union in a consistent and effective manner’ [Source:  http://rod.eionet.europa.eu/instruments/661].

The Directive ‘contains a legal requirement to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of public or private projects likely to have significant effects on the environment, before they begin’ [Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu].

Directive 2008/99/EC ‘defines a number of serious offences that are detrimental to the environment. It requires EU countries to introduce effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for these types of offence when committed intentionally or as a result of serious negligence. (…) This Directive builds upon Directive 2004/35/EC, which lays down rules on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage’ [Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu].

‘Directive 2004/35/EC on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage (ELD) establishes a framework based on the polluter pays principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage. As the ELD deals with the “pure ecological damage”, it is based on the powers and duties of public authorities (“administrative approach”) as distinct from a civil liability system for “traditional damage” (damage to property, economic loss, personal injury). The ELD was amended three times through Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries, through Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide and amending several directives, and through Directive 2013/30/EU on safety of offshore oil and gas operations and amending Directive 2004/35/EC’ [Source: http://ec.europa.eu/environment].

‘This Directive is aimed at controlling noise perceived by people in built-up areas, in public parks or other quiet areas in an agglomeration, in quiet areas in open country, near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and areas. It does not apply to noise that is caused by the exposed person him or herself, noise from domestic activities, noise created by neighbours, noise at work places or inside means of transport or noise due to military activities in military areas’ [Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu].

Council of Europe

‘The Convention is aimed at improving the protection of the environment at European level by using the solution of last resort – criminal law – in order to deter and prevent conduct which is most harmful to it. It also seeks to harmonise national legislation in this field. (…) It establishes as criminal offences a number of acts committed intentionally or through negligence where they cause or are likely to cause lasting damage to the quality of the air, soil, water, animals or plants, or result in the death of or serious injury to any person. It defines the concept of criminal liability of natural and legal persons, specifies the measures to be adopted by states to enable them to confiscate property and define the powers available to the authorities, and provides for international co-operation. The sanctions available must include imprisonment and pecuniary sanctions and may include reinstatement of the environment, the latter being an optional provision in the Convention. Another major provision concerns the possibility for environmental protection associations to participate in criminal proceedings concerning offences provided for in the Convention’ [Source: www.coe.int].