The full table is available here

Categories of the EU Environmental Acquis

Legal scopes


Water quality

a. River basin management
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the European Council of 23 October 2000 establishes a legal framework to protect and restore clean water across Europe and ensure its long-term and sustainable use. The directive establishes an innovative approach for water management based on river basins, the natural geographical and hydrological units, and sets specific deadlines for Member States to achieve ambitious environmental objectives for aquatic ecosystems. The directive addRresses inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. Article 14 of the directive covers public information and consultation. The main instrument for the implementation of the WFD is the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) and the accompanying Programme of Measures (PoM). The planning process starts with the transposition and the administrative arrangements, followed by the characterisation of the river basin district, the monitoring and the assessment of status, the objective setting, and finally the programme of measures and their implementation. The WFD was amended several time, among others, with Decision 2455/2001/EC establishing the list of priority substances in the field of water policy, Directive 2008/105/EC on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, Directive 2009/31/EU on the geological storage of carbon dioxide, Directive 2013/39/EU as regards priority substance in the field of water policy.
b. Flood risk management
Directive 2007/60/EC on the assessment and management of flood risks aims to reduce and manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity. It requires Member States to assess if all water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding, to map the flood extent and assets and humans at risk in these areas and to take adequate and coordinated measures to reduce this flood risk. With this Directive also reinforces the rights of the public to access this information and to have a say in the planning process. The Directive applies to inland waters as well as all coastal waters across the whole territory of the EU.
The Directive shall be carried out in coordination with the Water Framework Directive, notably by flood risk management plans and river basin management plans being coordinated, and through coordination of the public participation procedures in the preparation of these plans. All assessments, maps and plans prepared shall be made available to the public.
c. Ground water
Directive 2006/118/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration establishes a regime which sets groundwater quality standards and introduces measures to prevent or limit inputs of pollutants into groundwater. The directive also establishes quality criteria that takes account local characteristics and allows for further improvements to be made based on monitoring data and new scientific knowledge.  The Groundwater Directive complements the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It requires: * groundwater quality standards to be established by the end of 2008; * pollution trend studies to be carried out by using existing data and data which is mandatory by the WFD (referred to as “baseline level” data obtained in 2007-2008); * pollution trends to be reversed so that environmental objectives are achieved by 2015 by using the measures set out in the WFD; * measures to prevent or limit inputs of pollutants into groundwater to be operational so that WFD environmental objectives can be achieved by 2015; * reviews of technical provisions of the directive to be carried out in 2013 and every six years thereafter; * compliance with good chemical status criteria (based on EU standards of nitrates and pesticides and on threshold values established by Member States).
Annexes I and II of the Groundwater Directive are under review.
d. Drinking water
The European Union has a history of over 30 years of drinking water policy. This policy ensures that water intended for human consumption can be consumed safely on a life-long basis, and this represents a high level of health protection. The main pillars of the policy are to: * Ensure that drinking water quality is controlled through standards based on the latest scientific evidence; * Secure an efficient and effective monitoring, assessment and enforcement of drinking water quality; * Provide the consumers with adequate, timely and appropriately information and * Contribute to the broader EU water and health policy. The Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 (Drinking Water Directive) concerns the quality of water intended for human consumption. Its objective is to protect human health from adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean. The Drinking Water Directive applies to: * all distribution systems serving more than 50 people or supplying more than 10 cubic meter per day, but also distribution systems serving less than 50 people/supplying less than 10 cubic meter per day if the water is supplied as part of an economic activity; * drinking water from tankers;  * drinking water in bottles or containers; * water used in the food-processing industry, unless the competent national authorities are satisfied that the quality of the water cannot affect the wholesomeness of the foodstuff in its finished form.
e. Urban Waste Water Treatment
The Council Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment (UWWT) was adopted on 21 May 1991. Its objective is to protect the environment from the adverse effects of urban waste water (domestic waste water or the mixture of domestic waste water with industrial waste water and/or run-off rain water) discharges and discharges from certain industrial sectors (see Annex III of the Directive) and concerns the collection, treatment and discharge of: * Domestic waste water; * Mixture of waste water; * Waste water from certain industrial sectors (see Annex III of the Directive). On 27 February 1998 the Commission issued Directive 98/15/EC amending Directive 91/271/EEC to clarify the requirements of the Directive in relation to discharges from urban waste water treatment plants to sensitive areas which are subject to eutrophication. The Commission Decision 2014/413/EU concerns formats for reporting on the national programmes for implementation of the Directive 91/271/EEC.
f. Water pollution
1. The Directive 91/676/EEC (Nitrates Directive) aims to protect water quality across Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices. The Nitrates Directive forms an integral part of the Water Framework Directive and is one of the key instruments in the protection of waters against agricultural pressures.
2. European Union legislation also provides for measures against chemical pollution of surface waters. Community policy concerning dangerous or hazardous substances in European waters was introduced almost three decades ago by Council Directive 76/464/EEC on pollution caused by discharges of certain dangerous substances (codified as 2006/11/EC). Several substances have been regulated in specific directives (also called ‘daughter’ directives) in the 1980s by defining Community-wide emission limit values and quality objectives in the surface and coastal waters. As part of the restructuring of the Community water policy, Directive 76/464/EEC was integrated into the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC and Directive 76/464/EEC will be fully repealed in 2013. The Directive 2009/90/EC on technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of water status establishes common quality rules for chemical analysis and monitoring of water, sediment and biota carried out by Member States.

Horizontal legislation

a. Public Access to environmental information
The Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC builds on the experience gained under the earlier directive. The new Directive was prepared in time when the  European Union was preparing to ratify the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention). In that context, the Directive was brought into line with the generally more far-reaching provisions of the Aarhus Convention on access to information. The Directive also took account of developments in electronic communication technology, particularly for the format in which information was to be provided. It also placed stronger emphasis on active dissemination of information and set out more detailed rules in areas where Directive 90/313/EEC had still referred to national law.  Progress was made in several areas, including: * a broader definition of ‘environmental information’ which encompasses a wider range of matters related to the environment; * a broader definition of ‘public authorities’ which includes persons who perform public administrative functions; * more detailed provisions on the form in which information is to be made available, including a general obligation to provide information in the format requested and the possibility to use electronic means; *  a shorter deadline of one month for making the information requested available, to be extended by a further month if the volume and complexity of the information so require;* limitations on the grounds for refusal. Requests for information may be refused only if disclosure would adversely affect one of the interests listed. The exceptions are to be interpreted restrictively, taking into account the public interest served by disclosure; * limitations on the grounds for refusal if the request relates to information on emissions into the environment (’emissions-rule’); * additional obligations placed on national authorities to collect and disseminate information going beyond the obligation to disclose information; * additional obligations placed on national authorities to assist the public in seeking access to information; * improved procedures for review of acts or omissions by public authorities, in particular before a court of law or another independent and impartial body established by law.
b. Public participation
The Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 provides for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC (EIA) and 96/61/EC (IPPC).
The Directive requires that public must receive early notification intent to draw up (or modify or review) a plan or programme, with details of how to obtain information and how to participate and submit comments. The relevant authorities shall take account of any such comments, and in turn inform the public of their decision. Parties must also make public the reasons and considerations on which the decision is based.
c. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA)
The EIA Directive 85/337/EEC is in force since 1985 and applies to a wide range of defined public and private projects, which are defined in Annexes I and II: * Mandatory EIA: all projects listed in Annex I are considered as having significant effects on the environment and require an EIA (e.g. long-distance railway lines, motorways and express roads, airports with a basic runway length ≥ 2100 m, installations for the disposal of hazardous waste, installations for the disposal of non-hazardous waste > 100 tonnes/day, waste water treatment plants > 150.000 p.e.);  *  Discretion of Member States (screening): for projects listed in Annex II, the national authorities have to decide whether an EIA is needed. This is done by the “screening procedure”, which determines the effects of projects on the basis of thresholds/criteria or a case by case examination. However, the national authorities must take into account the criteria laid down in Annex III. The projects listed in Annex II are in general those not included in Annex I (railways, roads waste disposal installations, waste water treatment plants), but also other types such as urban development projects, flood-relief works, changes of Annex I and II existing projects…).
The 1985 EIA Directive has been amended three times, in 1997 bringing in line with the UNECE Espoo Convention, in 2003 aligning the provisions on public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters and in 2009 amending the Annexes I and II of the EIA Directive, by adding projects related to the transport, capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). The initial Directive of 1985 and its three amendments have been codified by the Directive 2011/92/EU and was amended in 2014 by the Directive 2014/52/EU. The amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2014/52/EU) entered into force on 15 May 2014 to simplify the rules for assessing the potential effects of projects on the environment. It is in line with the drive for smarter regulation, so it reduces the administrative burden. It also improves the level of environmental protection, with a view to making business decisions on public and private investments more sound, more predictable and sustainable in the longer term. The new approach pays greater attention to threats and challenges that have emerged since the original rules came into force. This means more attention to areas like resource efficiency, climate change and disaster prevention, which are now better reflected in the assessment process.
d. Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA)
The SEA Directive 2001/42/EC applies to a wide range of public plans and programmes (e.g. on land use, transport, energy, waste, agriculture, etc). The SEA Directive does not refer to policies. Plans and programmes in the sense of the SEA Directive must be prepared or adopted by an authority (at national, regional or local level) and be required by legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions. An SEA is mandatory for plans/programmes which are: * are prepared for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste/ water management, telecommunications, tourism, town & country planning or land use and which set the framework for future development consent of projects listed in the EIA Directive or * have been determined to require an assessment under the Habitats Directive.
e. Environmental liability
Directive 2004/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage (ELD) establishes a framework based on the polluter pays principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage. As the ELD deals with the “pure ecological damage”, it is based on the powers and duties of public authorities (“administrative approach”) as distinct from a civil liability system for “traditional damage” (damage to property, economic loss, personal injury).
The Directive defines “environmental damage” as damage to protected species and natural habitats, damage to water and damage to soil. Operators carrying out dangerous activities listed in Annex III of the Directive fall under strict liability (no need to proof fault).  Operators carrying out other occupational activities than those listed in Annex III are liable for fault-based damage to protected species or natural habitats. The establishment of a causal link between the activity and the damage is always required. Affected natural or legal persons and environmental NGOs have the right to request the competent authority to take remedial action if they deem it necessary.

Climate change

The EU has set itself targets for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions progressively up to 2050. Key climate and energy targets are set in the: * 2020 climate and energy package and * 2030 climate and energy framework. The 2030 climate and energy framework agreed by the EU leaders on 23 October 2014 sets three key targets for the year 2030: * At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels); * At least 27% share for renewable energy and * At least 27% improvement in energy efficiency.  These targets are defined to put the EU on the way to achieve the transformation towards a low- carbon economy as detailed in the 2050 low-carbon roadmap.
a. Greenhouse gas emissions
The European Union (EU) has established a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading for the cost-effective reduction of such emissions. This scheme should enable the EU and the Member States to meet the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions made in the context of the Kyoto Protocol. Installations operating in the energy sector, iron and steel production and processing, the mineral industry and the paper and board industry will automatically be subject to the emission trading scheme. The Directive 2003/87/EC aims to introduce significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions with a view to reducing the influence of such emissions on the climate. The Directive 2009/29/EC amends ETS Directive so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emission allowance scheme of the Community. Directive 2008/101/EC amends the Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme within the Community.
Other legislative acts in this area include: * Commission Regulation (EU) No 601/2012 of 21 June 2012 on the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions pursuant to Directive 2003/87/EC. The Regulation sets rules for the monitoring and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and activity data under Directive 2003/87/EC for the trading period of the European Union’s emission quota trading system to begin on January 1, 2013 and for the subsequent exchange periods. The regulation requires each operator or aircraft operator to monitor greenhouse gas emissions on the basis of a monitoring plan describing in a detailed, exhaustive and transparent way the monitoring methodology to be applied by a specific facility or by a given aircraft operator. The regulation also defines basic methods for monitoring, so as to reduce the burden on operators as much as possible. Provisions specifically for the aviation sector are planned with regard to the monitoring of emissions; * Commission Regulation (EU) No 1031/2010 of 12 November 2010 on the timing, administration and other aspects of auctioning of greenhouse gas emission allowances pursuant to Directive 2003/87/EC; * Commission Decision 2007/589/EC of 18 July 2007 establishing guidelines for the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions pursuant to Directive 2003/87/EC. These guidelines are designed to ensure regular and precise monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions in the Community. Their application is facilitated in the case of installations with average verified reported emissions of less than 25 000 tonnes of fossil CO2 per year during the previous trading period.
b. Renewable sources
The Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC establishes an overall policy for the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. All EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020. The Directive specifies national renewable energy targets for each country, taking into account its starting point and overall potential for renewables. EU countries set out how they plan to meet these targets and the general course of their renewable energy policy in national renewable energy action plans. Progress towards national targets is measured every two years when EU countries publish national renewable energy progress reports.

Air Quality

a. Ambient air quality
Directive 2008/50/EC
Directive 2004/107/EC
b. National Emission Ceilings (NEC)
Directive 2001/181/EC
The Clean Air Policy Package
c. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions
Directive 1999/13/EC
Directive 2004/42/EC
d. Sulphur content of liquid fuels
Directive 1999/32/EC
Directive 2012/33/EU
e. Large combustion plants (LCPs)
Directive 2001/80/EC
Directive 88/609/EEC
Directive 94/66/EC
f. Automobile fuel quality
Directive 98/70/EC
Directive 2003/17/EC
Directive 2009/30/EC
g. Road vehicles
Regulation 715/207
Directive 2005/55/EC
Directive 2005/78/EC
h. Emissions from maritime transport
Directive 2012/33/EU
Directive 1999/32/EC
i. Non-road Mobile Machinery
Directive 97/68/EC
Directive 2002/88
j. Petrol vapour recovery
 Directive 2009/126/EC

Waste management

a. Waste Framework Directive
 Directive 200/98/EC
b. Sewage sludge
Directive 86/278/EEC
c. Hazardous waste
Directive 200/98/EC
Decision 200/532/EC
Decision 2001/573/EC
d. Shipment of waste
Regulation (EC) N° 1013/2006
Regulation (EC) N° 660/2014
e. Titanium dioxide waste
Directive 78/176/EEC
Directive 82/883/EEC
Directive 92/112/EEC
f. Batteries and accumulators
Directive 2006/66/EC
Directive 91/157/EEC
g. Packaging and packaging waste
Directive 94/62/EC
h. Polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCB/PCT)
Directive 96/59/EC
Regulation EC N° 850/2004
i. End-of life vehicles (ELV)
Directive 2005/53/EC
j. Mining waste
Directive 2006/21/EC
k. Restriction of the use of hazardous substances (RoHS)
The RoHS Recast Directive 2011/65/EU entered into force o, 21 July 2011. The key elements of this Directive are as follows: * A gradual extension of the rules to all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), cables and spare parts, with a view to full compliance by 2019; * A review of the list of banned substances by July 2014, and periodically thereafter; * Clearer and more transparent rules for granting exemptions from the substance ban; * Improved coherence with the REACH Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals; * Clarification of important definitions and * CE marking denoting compliance with European norms reserved for electronic products that also respect RoHS requirements. In view of the significant extension of the scope, this Directive introduces transition periods of up to 8 years for the new products affected by the rules.
l. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
Directive 2012/19/EC
m. Incineration of waste
Directive 2000/76/EC
n. Landfill
Directive 1999/31/EC

Nature protection

a. Natura 2000
Natura 2000 network
Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC
Directive 2009/147/EC
Directive 79/409/EEC
b. Marine
Guidelines for the establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the marine environment
a. Integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC)
Directive 96/61/EC
Directive 2008/1/EC
Directive 2010/75/EU
b. Asbestos
Council Directive 87/217/EEC
Directive 91/692/EEC
Council Regulation 807/2003/EC
c. Industrial plants
Council Directive 84/360/EEC

Chemicals and GMOs

a. Classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of chemical substances and mixtures (GHS)
Regulation (EC) N° 1272/2008
Directive 67/548/EEC
Directive 1999/45/EC
Regulation (EC) N° 1907/2006
Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
Regulation (EC) 1907/2006
Database in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
c. Plant protection products
Council directive 91/414/EEC
Regulation (EC) 1107/2009
d. Biocides
Directive 98/8/EC
Regulation 528/2012
e. Laboratory animals
Directive 86/609/EEC
Directive 2010/63/EU
f. Import and export of chemicals
Regulation (EC) 649/2012
Regulation (EC) 689/2008
g. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)
Regulation (EC) N° 850/2004
Regulation (EU) 757/2010
Regulation (EU) 756/2010
h. GMO (genetically modified organisms)
Directive 2001/18/EC
Regulation (EC) 1829/2003
Directive (EU) 2015/412
Regulation (EC) 1830/2003
Directive 2009/41/EC
Regulation (EC) 1946/2003


a. Assessment and management of noise
Directive 2002/49/EC

Civil Protection

Decision 1313/2013/EU
a. Control of major accident hazards
Directive 2012/18/EU
Directive 96/82/EC
Information about pollution – PRTR
Regulation (EC) N° 166/2006
European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

The register contributes to transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making and implements for the European Community the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) PRTR Protocol to the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.