Update for the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive

The European Commission has outlined its plans to change EU legislation on environmental impact assessments (EIAs) –  to replace Directive 2011/92/EU.

  • EU figures show that there, on average, are up to 26,000 EIAs across the bloc each year, and that the duration of the process is generally more than 11 months.
  • There is mounting concern among businesses that the existing process is too slow and costly.

The commission acknowledges the current Directive lacks quality standards, does not sufficiently cover emerging environmental issues, such as climate change and resource efficiency, and is poorly implemented across the EU.

The commission says the proposals for an updated EIA Directive are intended to lighten administrative burdens and make it easier to assess the potential impacts of major projects, without weakening existing environmental safeguards.

  • Planned changes to the Directive include adjusting the procedure that determines whether EIA is required, so that only projects with significant environmental impacts are subject to an assessment.
  • The new Directive will also require authorities to consider impacts from alternative proposals and to clearly explain the reasons behind their decisions.
  • Proposals to streamline the various stages of the assessment include introducing timeframes and a new mechanism to ease the process when several EIAs are required and several authorities involved.