The law is an important tool to protect the rights of people and nature. But too often political promises are turned into environmental laws just to be undercut not long after by inconsistent application of those laws. The EEB fights for the rule of law in environmental protection, for holding polluters legally liable, and for the right to a healthy environment. 

The protection of the environment and measures to deal with climate breakdown are being codified in law by the EU, but compliance and enforcement remain the biggest challenges to a full realisation of European Green Deal.  

When individuals or companies break environmental laws they need to be held legally accountable. Here, civil and criminal liability standards as well as implementation and enforcement resources are crucial. The EEB engages with the EU legislative process on key areas such as on environmental crime, to improve inspections, enforcement and sanctioning of environmental crimes in all member states and make sure no relevant crime is left out. We push for a stronger environmental liability regime, because we believe polluters must be the ones to pay for the pollution they cause, as set down in the EU Treaties. The EEB also advocates for mandatory environmental, climate and human rights due diligence obligations on companies, as they need to be held accountable when they undercut their duty to prevent harm to the environment and climate, and contribute to the violation of human rights in their business operations. 

With unique on-the-ground knowledge and the capacity to act, NGOs have an important role to play in promoting and monitoring the correct application of European and international laws in EU Member States. The EEB monitors the EU’s work on the rule of law and pushes for more systematic follow-up of complaints and more extensive use of the infringements procedure to deal with breaches of environmental law. 


Major legal acts in the EU environmental acquis


Library for EU Environmental Law