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European Commission publishes review on common challenges & how to improve results when National Authorities implement environmental policies

Initiated in May 2016 to improve implementation of existing EU environmental policy and legislation and overcoming common implementation challenges, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is the first report in a two-year cycle of analysis and dialogue. The EIR aims to raise attention to remaining environmental implementation gaps among all key national and local players, the Council, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee.

According to the EIR, waste policy can be identified as having the main challenges and most pressing implementation gaps. The report emphasizes the need to increase the effectiveness of separate waste collection, the importance of reaching the municipal waste recycling target and the implementation of waste prevention programs all over the European Union. Furthermore, the Commission emphasizes the importance of overcoming lack of coordination between government layers, lack of legal enforcement, lack of capacity to manage large investment projects, unreliable data and insufficient control and monitoring.

The following actions are suggested by the Commission in specific to improve waste management:

  • Introducing policies, such as economic instruments to promote prevention and make reuse and recycling more economically attractive. Additionally, free-riding should be eliminated and waste management companies should have financial viability
  • Reusable and recyclable waste should be shifted away from incineration by phasing out incineration subsidies and by introducing an incineration tax
  • Introducing landfill taxes to phase out landfilling of recyclable and recoverable waste
  • Focusing on introducing and implementing a separate collection obligation and prioritize the separate collection of bio-waste
  • Bringing together waste management plans in order to cover a whole national territory
  • As a matter of high priority finalizing work on irregular landfills

The following additional actions are suggested by the Commission to develop a circular economy:

  • Speed up the uptake of the circular economy by improving the policy framework within all economic sectors (i.e. local businesses, education systems, recyclers)
  • Improving the monitoring of circular economy policies
  • Exchanging good practices and facilitating development among local government entities
  • Improving awareness among universities, schools and SME’s. In addition, increasing recycling training on schools and the use of eco-design logo’s by SME’s
  • Increasing investments in green products and services. Furthermore fostering R&D funding among SME’s.

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