On 22 January, the Environment Committee gave its opinion on the draft directive on environmental liability calling for a wide financial and legal accountability of polluters.
On 22 January, the EP Environment Committee adopted its opinion on the draft directive on environmental liability. Despite much opposition from industry, the Committee voted in favour of strict rules and called for:
- the removal of the “compliance with permit” and the “state of the art” defenses to ensure that the costs of remediation are borne by those causing environmental damage.
- a mandatory requirement for insurance or other form of financial security within five years from the date of the Directive’s entry into force. This should help place the burden of any costs on the polluter and not on the public purse.
- an improvement in the provisions on access to justice, to guarantee that non-governmental organisations and citizens can take direct action against polluters, instead of leaving that to the public authority alone. This should ensure that the aims of the Directive are achieved more effectively.
- widening the scope of the proposal to include damage caused by genetically modified organisms and to cover all habitats and species protected, not only by Community law as proposed by the Commission, but also by international, national and regional laws.
- the inclusion of joint and several liability in the proposal, while also limiting this to the proportionate share for minor contributors to environmental damage, such as small and medium-sized enterprises.