Environmental impact assessment: Commission takes GREECE to the Court of Justice of the European Union
The European Commission has decided today to refer Greece (INFR(2019)2217) to the Court of Justice of the European Union for its failure to correctly transpose the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2011/92/EU as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU), which obliges Member States to carry out an environmental impact assessment for certain large infrastructure projects. Greek legislation does not apply, for example, the provisions of the EIA Directive to all national defence projects. The EIA Directive stipulates that such an exclusion is possible only after a case-by-case examination of the project and only if the Member State considers that the application of the EIA procedure would have adverse effect on defence or civil emergencies purposes.
In addition, Greek legislation does not include neither a legal provision obliging the Hellenic authorities to inform the public about any decision taken by another Member State concerning projects with transboundary effects on Greek territory.
Finally, Greek legislation does not yet include the obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment for certain projects such as installations for the reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel or the final disposal of radioactive waste, or inland waterways and ports which permit the passage of vessels of over 1,350 tonnes.
The European Green Deal stresses the importance of Europe remaining on track to meet its environmental objectives. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Greece in October 2019, followed by a reasoned opinion in December 2020. Despite some progress, the Greek authorities have not yet fully addressed the grievances. The Commission is therefore referring Greece to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The EIA Directive is mainly procedural and even light non-conformity issues affect the whole EIA process. A detailed transposition checklist and several guidance documents were made available to the Member States to facilitate their work. The Directive is particularly relevant for the internal market/business environment, because it is part of the level playing field for public and private investments. In this context, the Directive affects EU co-financed projects and the Commission needs to ensure that the national legislation is aligned to EU rules as quickly as possible.
For More Information
On the key decisions in the July 2022 infringements package, see full MEMO
On the Infringements database
On the EU infringements procedure