to react to the European Commission Communication of 7 March 2012, which will help shape the future 7th Environment Action Programme (7EAP);
to contribute to the debate on the future 7EAP, and its expected focus on better implementation;
to expand on the past CoR Outlook Opinion on "The role of local and regional authorities in future environmental policy" (CdR 164/2010 fin) which highlighted opportunities to increase the effectiveness of environmental protection at all levels of governance and all stages of policy development
The Opinion in particular allowed the CoR to feed the concerns of the EU's local and regional authorities into the preparations of the European Commission of its proposal for the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP).
The activities of the rapporteur and of the CoR Secretariat have contributed to increasing the profile, interinstitutional role and visibility of the CoR in the field of better implementation and the the 7th Environment Action Programme, in particular the conference co-organised by the ENVE Secretariat with the European Commission "Driving better implementation in our cities & regions – a key element of the 7th Environment Action Programme" & Launch of the CoR/EC Technical Platform for Cooperation on the Environment" on 5 December 2012. This conference was very well attended and saw a very good press coverage and high-level participation, including the participation of of Commissioner Janez Potocnik, CoR Vice-President Mercedes Bresso, European Parliament PETI Committee Chair Erminia Mazzoni, Member of the European Parliament Jo Leinen, and the incoming Irish Presidency.
The European Parliament adopted on 12 March 2013 its resolution on the underlying European Commission Communication.
The European Parliament resolution refers on several occasions explicitly to local and regional authorities and their key role in implementation, and calls also on the Commission to promote knowledge and capacity-building "in close cooperation with the Committee of the Regions".
The resolution reflects several key recommendations of the CoR Opinion, namely it:
• calls on the Commission to examine whether greater participation by local authorities throughout the process of defining environmental policy would be useful: including the possibility of setting up teams to transpose environmental law at regional and local level;
• urges the Commission to re-consider demands for the introduction of a best-practise database, allowing best practice in implementation to be disseminated across Member States and across regional and local authorities;
• calls for exploring the possibility of setting up partnership implementation agreements between the Commission and individual Member States,
• urges the Commission set up an Environmental Law Inspection Unit, whose role will be to assist in the implementation of the environmental legislation.
• calls for a more dissemination of best practices between the Member States, and between the regional and local authorities that are responsible for implementing EU legislation, as well as through greater cooperation with the European Institutions;
• stresses the need to improve the role of the European Environment Agency in improving data on compliance and implementation;
• urges the Commission and the Member States to help improve the knowledge and capacity of the people involved in implementing environmental legislation, at regional and local levels.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- calls for the 7th Environment Action Programme (7EAP) to support local and regional authorities in their role in implementation, in particular by including elements such as: their greater participation throughout the process of formulating, transposing and evaluating EU legislation; effective source-based policies and expanding cost-recovery options for local and regional authorities; a focus on how to manage the urban environment sustainably; and to establish a reasonable timeframe between the adoption of laws and their subsequent revision;
- supports the improvement of the structuring, pro-active dissemination and accessibility of information, including the development of Structured Implementation and Information Frameworks (SIIFs); financial support for this should be made possible under the technical assistance provided for by the Structural Funds 2007-2014 as well as by the future LIFE programme;
- believes that the 7EAP should commit the EU and Member States to introduce new and enhanced instruments for improving responsiveness, such as a general EU framework on environmental inspections and surveillance; inspection powers for the European Commission; general criteria for national complaint-handling; and a Directive on Access to Justice;
- welcomes the proposed Partnership Implementation Agreements, however they should not only be agreed between the European Commission and a Member State, but also involve one or more local and regional authorities in order to adequately reflect multilevel governance;
- recommends to improve environmental outcomes through innovative methods of multilevel governance, including expanding the Covenant of Mayors to resource efficiency and further development of the European Green Capital Award;
- welcomes the support that the European Commission gives in its Communication to the CoR's proposal to co-organise a regular forum to address regional and local problems and solutions in the application of EU environmental law.