The European Commission adopted an Action Plan to improve citizens’ access to high quality information on environmental issues whilst cutting administrative burdens for industry and public authorities in EU Member States.Europe’s citizens have the right to know how EU policies are improving air and water quality, waste management or nature protection. The Action Plan adopted today will ensure that high quality information is widely available and accessible at the local level. Businesses involved in reporting and regulatory monitoring will face simpler procedures and policy makers will have access to higher quality information to underpin decisions.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for Better Regulation said, “This action plan is about simplifying environmental reporting and informing citizens better. It’s a good example of how better regulation helps us uphold our high environmental standards and meet our evidence-based policy objectives.” Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “Two weeks ago we adopted the new Bathing Water Report which is of huge interest to anyone who uses Europe’s beaches; last year the information was accessed and searched directly more than a million times. This underlines the desire from citizens for useful information that can be processed, understood and shared quickly. Our ambition is to replicate this positive experience for all environmental reporting.”
The actions are cross-cutting and grouped in five areas:
1. Getting the right information in the right form at the right time including through changing or repealing reporting obligations.
2. Streamlining the reporting process by using new technologies to provide rapid and geographically specific evidence.
3. Promoting active dissemination of environmental information so that citizens can better understand the state of the environment they live in.
4. Exploiting other data sources and alternative approaches, such as from the EU earth observation programme Copernicus.
5. Improving cooperation to make sure that data reported to the Commission is used as widely as possible.
There are 181 reporting obligations found in 58 pieces of EU environmental legislation, requiring numerical and geospatial information. Most of this information is currently in text format, which is generally difficult to report, structure and analyse. The frequency and type of reporting also varies. Around half are every two or more years, and around half lead to a Commission report to the other EU institutions. Finally, responsibility for processing data and making it available also varies, with the European Environment Agency often playing this role, as in the case of the bathing water report.
The Fitness Check evaluation of reporting and monitoring of EU Environment Policy was carried out as part of the Commission’s Better Regulation policy, which includes improving implementation of existing legislation, and policies as well as reducing burdens and simplifying them. The fitness check found reporting to be largely efficient and the associated administrative burden (estimated cost of EUR 22 million annually) to be moderate, justified and proportionate. The benefits, such as improved and more targeted implementation and better public information, greatly outweigh the costs.
Source: EC Environment