To follow up on the recommendations that the CoR issued in 2010 on improving the EIA Directive (Opinion CdR 38/2010 fin).
Ensure more coherence between the terminologies and the level of detail used in Article 3 and Annex III and IV on the environmental impact assessment, the screening and the content of the environmental report.
The new provision of Article 2 (3) on coordinated or joint EIA procedures should only be voluntary, and it should be clearly indicated which other EU legislation would fall under this provision.
Make sure that the public is already involved at the screening phase (Article 4 (2)).
Article 11 to include a right to challenge screening and scoping decisions for the public concerned.
Support for the introduction of mandatory scoping in Article 5 (2).
Articles 5 and 8 should better accommodate the different systems for checking environmental reports and for granting development consent, as established in the Member States, regions and cities.
The co-decision making on this file is still ongoing, so that the "final" impact of the CoR Opinion in relation to the adopted legal act cannot yet be analysed (the COREPER on 20/12/2013 approved a compromise agreed with the European Parliament in the Trilogue in first reading, yet the text has not yet been made public).
The European Parliament on 9 October 2013 closed its first reading of the dossier. Some few amendments proposed by the CoR are reflected by the amendments adopted by the European Parliament, such as:
• to exempt cases where the Member States deem that the application of those procedures would be disproportionate from the coordinated or joint procedures in Article 2(3);
• for the competent authority to issue a scoping opinion only upon the request of the developer (no obligatory scoping per se) – Article 5(2);
• the deletion of the need for competent experts to be accredited in Article 5(3).
Concerning the general criticism of the CoR that the proposal does not revise Annexes I and II, the amendments adopted by the European Parliament aim at revising both annexes by inserting for example unconventional hydrocarbons explorations.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- requests that coordinated or joint environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures as proposed under Article 2 (3)should be voluntary rather than obligatory; it should be clearly indicated which other EU legislation would fall under this provision;
- rejects the idea in Article 5(2) of making scoping mandatory for all cases, without exception. The responsibility to ensure an appropriate scope and level of detail of the environmental report should continue to lie with the developer;
- requests that the EIA Directive under Article 5 (3) should accommodate the different systems for checking environmental reports established in the Member States, including those where the verification of the reports may be done in-house by the competent authorities or the environmental authorities;
- welcomes the introduction of a minimum deadline for public consultation of 30 days under Article 6 (7). However, any deadlines exceeding this minimum should be a matter for the Member States to decide on;
- requests to modify the proposal under Article 8 (1) on the decision to grant development, in order to accommodate the different systems that exist in the Member States, and recommends, as a measure contributing to the quality and hence the effectiveness of EIAs, that the Directive specify the duration of validity of an EIA;
- is critical of the setting of binding time-frames for decisions on concluding EIAs for projects under Article 8 (3).The acceleration of proceedings sought by setting a time-frame is better achieved with more nuanced rules in the Member States;
- calls for transitional rules to be worded in such a way as to require EIAs for projects at an advanced stage of procedures to be conducted in line with the provisions of the current EIA Directive.