Decision is third initiative of the EC’s REFIT programme to simplify regulation for Member States.

The EU Council has adopted a decision to reduce and consolidate EU environmental reporting legislation in order to decrease bureaucracy and costs as well as to simplify environmental reporting compliance for Member States.

This streamlining forms part of the regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT) which the European Commission (the Commission) established in 2014. The REFIT programme aims to remove out-of-date and unnecessary legislation relating to environmental monitoring and reporting as well as to improve communication between Member States and citizens so that information about the environment is shared more efficiently.

As part of this effort, the Commission set out its “repeal package” which was made up of three initiatives. The decision taken on 14 May 2018 was the third part of this initiative.

Green reporting requirements appear in Directives such as the Non-Financial Reporting Directive 2014 which requires certain companies to report on environmental matters. In March 2018, the Commission published a consultation paper asking for opinions on whether the EU framework for public reporting by companies was fit for purpose.

For example the Commission has suggested the Drinking Water Directive legislation should be streamlined, and taken steps to streamline green reporting, such as modernising eReporting and developing guidance for European and national environmental information systems.

The EU Council’s recent decision is intended to help Member States understand their environmental reporting obligations. The revision of legislation will involve eliminating or rewording sections which are irrelevant or no longer apply. The Commission has previously noted that “[environmental] reporting leads to costs for Member States and businesses so there is an equilibrium that needs to be managed between the demand for better information and the cost of providing it”. The EU Council’s decision should help to strike this balance.

Neno Dimov, the Bulgarian Minister for Environment and Water said “[the EU Council’s] decision is about cutting red tape and making things simpler. I am very pleased that ministers have approved this revision of legislation, which will make environmental reporting obligations clearer and more efficient.”

Latham will continue to continue the progress of the streamlining.

This post was prepared with the assistance of Olivia Featherstone in the London office of Latham & Watkins.