EU Acquis

The EU’s ‘acquis’ is the body of common rights and obligations that are binding on all EU countries, as EU Members. It is constantly evolving and comprises:

  • the content, principles and political objectives of the Treaties;
  • legislation adopted in application of the Treaties and the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU;
  • declarations and resolutions adopted by the EU;
  • measures relating to the common foreign and security policy;
  • measures relating to justice and home affairs;
  • international agreements concluded by the EU and those concluded by the EU countries between themselves in the field of the EU’s activities.

Environmental acquis

The environmental acquis collection of all environmental laws comprises over 200 major legal acts covering horizontal legislation (EIA, SEA, access to information), climate change, water and air quality, waste management (including circular economy), nature protection, industrial pollution control and risk management (including BAT), chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), noise and forestry.The environmental acquis collection of all environmental laws comprises over 200 major legal acts covering horizontal legislation (EIA, SEA, access to information), climate change, water and air quality, waste management (including circular economy), nature protection, industrial pollution control and risk management (including BAT), chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), noise and forestry.

EU Legislation

EU legislation is divided into primary and secondary.

The Treaties (primary legislation) are the basis or ground rules for all EU action which lay down the objectives of the EU, the rules for EU institutions, how decisions are made and the relationship between the EU and its member countries. The EU Treaties have been amended to reform the EU institutions, to add new areas of responsibility and to allow new EU countries to join the EU. The Treaties are negotiated and agreed by all the EU countries and then ratified by their parliaments, sometimes following a referendum. Every action taken by the EU is founded on Treaties. If a policy area is not cited in a Treaty, the Commission cannot propose a law in that area.

Example: Environment and climate in the Treaties:

The Treaty on European Union (actual version as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon)


  • Article 3 (under Title I – Common provisions)  
  • Article 21 (under Chapter 1, General provisions on the Union´s external action)

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (actual version as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon)

Environment (including climate):

  • Article 4 (under Title I – Categories and areas of Union competence)
  • Article 11 (under Title II – Provisions having general application)
  • Article 114 (under Chapter 3 – Approximation of law)
  • Article 173 (under Title XVII – Industry)
  • Article 177 (under Title XVIII – Economic, social and territorial cohesion)
  • Title XX – Environment  (Articles 191- 193)
  • Article 194 (under Title XXI – Energy)

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

  • Environment: Article 37 (under Title IV – Solidarity)

Under the treaties, EU institutions can adopt secondary legislation, which the member countries then implement.

Secondary legislation – which includes regulations, directives and decisions – is derived from the principles and objectives set out in the Treaties.

The EU’s legislative authority is divided between the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Obviously, regulations, directives and decisions are being adopted by the European Parliament and the Council or by the Council itself (in the past) or by the European Commission.

Once an EU law is passed, it can be necessary to update it to reflect developments in a particular sector or to ensure that it is implemented properly. The European Parliament and the Council can authorise the European Commission to adopt delegated acts or implementing acts in order to do this.


Regulations are legal acts that apply automatically and uniformly to all EU countries as soon as they enter into force, without needing to be transposed into national law. They are binding in their entirety on all EU countries.

Examples (Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulation, Commission Regulation):

  • Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register and amending Council Directives 91/689/EEC and 96/61/EC (amended 2019)
  • Council Regulation (EC) No 734/2008 of 15 July 2008 on the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas from the adverse impacts of bottom fishing gears
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 1016/2010 of 10 November 2010 implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for household dishwashers (amended 2017)


Directives require EU countries to achieve a certain result, but leave them free to choose how to do so. EU countries must adopt measures to incorporate (transpose) them into national law in order to achieve the objectives set by the directive. National authorities must communicate these measures to the European Commission.

Transposition into national law must take place by the deadline set when the directive is adopted (generally within 2 years). When a country does not transpose a directive, the Commission may initiate infringement proceedings.

Examples (Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directive, Commission Directive):

  • Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)
  • Council Directive 1999/22/EC of 29 March 1999 relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos
  • Commission  Directive (EU) 2018/350 of 8 March 2018 amending Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the environmental risk assessment of genetically modified organisms


A decision shall be binding in its entirety. A decision which specifies those to whom it is addressed shall be binding only on them.

Examples (Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Decision, Commission Decision):

  • Decision No 2455/2001/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2001 establishing the list of priority substances in the field of water policy and amending Directive 2000/60/EC
  • 2010/631/EU: Council Decision of 13 September 2010 concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean
  • 2009/300/EC: Commission Decision of 12 March 2009 establishing the revised ecological criteria for the award of the Community Eco-label to televisions (amended 2020)

Delegated acts

Delegated acts are legally binding acts that enable the European Commission to supplement or amend non‑essential parts of EU legislative acts, for example, in order to define detailed measures. The European Commission adopts the delegated act and if the European Parliament and the Council have no objections, it enters into force.


  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/856 of 26 February 2019 supplementing Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the operation of the Innovation Fund
  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/655 of 19 December 2016 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1628 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to monitoring of gaseous pollutant emissions from in-service internal combustion engines installed in non-road mobile machinery

Implementing acts

Implementing acts are legally binding acts that enable the European Commission – under the supervision of committees consisting of EU countries’ representatives – to set conditions that ensure that EU laws are applied uniformly.


  • Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/1147 of 10 August 2018 establishing best available techniques (BAT) conclusions for waste treatment, under Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council

In addition to the binding legal acts, two non-binding types of acts are being used – recommendations and opinions.


Recommendations allow the EU institutions to make their views known and to suggest a line of action without imposing any legal obligation on those to whom it is addressed. They have no binding force.


  • Commission Recommendation of 28 April 2010 on the research joint programming initiative on Agriculture, food security and climate change


An ‘opinion’ is an instrument that allows the EU institutions to make a statement, without imposing any legal obligation on the subject of the opinion. An opinion has no binding force.


  • C(2020)7133/1  Commission Opinion on the draft Single Programming Document 2021-2023 of the European Environment Agency

EU Institutions

The EU has an institutional framework aimed at promoting and defending its values, objectives and interests, the interests of its citizens and those of its member countries. This framework also contributes to ensuring the coherence, effectiveness and continuity of EU policies and actions. According to Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union, the institutional framework comprises 7 institutions:

The European Parliament (EP) is the only directly-elected EU body and one of the largest democratic assemblies in the world. Its 678 Members represent the EU’s 450 million citizens (after Brexit). They are elected once every 5 years by voters from across the 27 EU countries. Its representatives are called Members of the European Parliament – MEPs.

The EP’s main functions are as follows:

  • legislative power: the EP is now a co-legislator. For most legal acts, the legislative power is shared with the Council, through the ordinary legislative procedure;
  • budgetary power: the EP shares budgetary powers with the Council in voting on the annual budget;
  • power of control over the EU’s institutions, in particular the Commission.

Established in 1957, the European Commission now comprises 27 Commissioners including its President. Each Commissioner is assigned responsibility for specific policy area. The Commission acts in the EU’s general interest with complete independence from national governments and is accountable to the European Parliament.

The European Commission’s main functions are as follows:

  • the right of initiative to propose laws in a wide range of policy areas;
  • the right to adopt non-legislative acts, in particular delegated and implementing acts;
  • powers to ensure fair conditions of competition between EU businesses;
  • overseeing the implementation of EU law;
  • execution of the EU’s budget and management of funding programmes.

The Commission comprises Directorates-General (departments) and Services which are mainly located in Brussels and Luxembourg.

European Commission: Directorates-General (departments)

Commission Directorates-General are each headed by a director-general, who reports to the European Commissioner in charge of the corresponding policy area:

  • Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI)
  • Budget (BUDG)
  • Climate Action (CLIMA)
  • Communication (COMM)
  • Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT)
  • Competition (COMP)
  • Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN)
  • Education and Culture (EAC)
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (EMPL)
  • Energy (ENER)
  • Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR)
  • Enterprise and Industry (ENTR)
  • Environment (ENV)
  • International Partnerships (INTPA)
  • Eurostat (ESTAT)
  • Health and Consumers (SANCO)
  • Home Affairs (HOME)
  • Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
  • Human Resources and Security (HR)
  • Informatics (DIGIT)
  • Internal Market and Services (MARKT)
  • Interpretation (SCIC)
  • Joint Research Centre (JRC)
  • Justice (JUST)
  • Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE)
  • Mobility and Transport (MOVE)
  • Regional Policy (REGIO)
  • Research and Innovation (RTD)
  • Secretariat-General (SG)
  • Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI)
  • Taxation and Customs Union (TAXUD)
  • Trade (TRADE)
  • Translation (DGT)

European Commission: Services

Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA), Central Library, European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF),          European Commission Data Protection Officer, Historical archives, Infrastructures and Logistics – Brussels (OIB), Infrastructures and Logistics – Luxembourg (OIL), Internal Audit Service (IAS), Legal Service (SJ), Office For Administration And Payment Of Individual Entitlements (PMO), Publications Office (OP)

The European Council which comprises the Heads of State or Government of the EU countries meets at least 4 times a year and includes the President of the European Commission as a full member.  Its role is to provide the impetus, general political guidelines and priorities for the EU’s development.

The European Council does not exercise any legislative function, however, it may be consulted on criminal matters or on social security matters where an EU country opposes a legislative proposal in these areas. Its decisions are taken by consensus or, where so provided by the treaties by unanimity, qualified majority or simple majority.

The Council of the European Union (‘Council’) is one of the EU’s main decision-making bodies. Its meetings are attended by ministers from the 27 EU countries, and it is the institution where these countries adopt laws and coordinate policies.

The Council meets in 10 configurations, bringing together the relevant ministers from EU countries: General Affairs; Foreign Affairs; Economic and Financial Affairs; Justice and Internal Affairs; Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs; Competitiveness; Transport, Telecommunications and Energy; Agriculture and Fisheries; Environment; Education, Youth and Culture.

The Council, with the European Parliament, acts in a legislative and budgetary capacity. It is also the lead institution for decision-making on the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), and on the coordination of economic policies (intergovernmental approach), as well as being the holder of executive power, which it generally delegates to the Commission.

In most cases, the Council’s decisions, based on proposals from the Commission, are taken jointly with the European Parliament under the ordinary legislative procedure. Depending on the subject, the Council takes decisions by simple majority, qualified majority or unanimity, although qualified majority is more widely used (agriculture, single market, environment, transport, employment, health, etc.).

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) comprises the following 2 branches:

  • The Court of Justice: this court continues to give preliminary rulings, hear some actions against EU institutions brought by EU countries and take appeals from the General Court. It also gives rulings in the area of freedom, security and justice and makes decisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and issues arising from the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
  • The General Court: this court has jurisdiction to hear actions against EU institutions brought by citizens and, in some instances, by EU countries. It also gives rulings in cases on employment relations between the EU institutions and their civil servants.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank of the euro area (located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany). Together with the euro area national central banks, it forms the Eurosystem, which conduct)s monetary policy in the euro area. Its primary objective is to maintain price stability, i.e. to safeguard the value of the euro. In addition, the ECB, in cooperation with the national supervisors, carries out banking supervision in the euro area and in other participating Member States within the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

The Court of Auditors is the EU’s independent external auditor and financial watchdog. It comprises 1 member from each EU country. The Court checks that EU revenue and spending (including that of bodies created by the EU and external bodies managing EU funds) is legal and regular and ensures that financial management is sound. If it discovers fraud or irregularities, it must inform the European Anti-Fraud Office.

Each institution acts within the limits of its remit, granted in the Treaties in line with the procedures, conditions and purposes laid down therein.

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission are assisted by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions performing advisory functions.

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) must be consulted by the Commission, Council and Parliament on certain topics affecting local or regional interests. These topics include: economic and social cohesion, employment, social policy, energy and telecommunications, vocational training,  climate change and civil protection. The CoR may also draw up opinions on its own initiative. The maximum number of members of the CoR is 350 and the Council of the EU appoints the members for a 5-year term.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an EU consultative body which represents the interests of the various economic and social groups in EU countries. The EESC is consulted by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in the cases laid down in the EU treaties. It may also issue own-initiative opinions. The EESC has a maximum of 350 members (between 5 and 24 members per EU country). Members fall into 3 groups representing the interests of: 1) employers, 2) workers, and 3) particular types of activity (such as farmers, small businesses, professions, consumers, cooperatives, families, environmental groups). EESC members are appointed for 5 years (renewable).

DG Environment

The Directorate-General for Environment is the European Commission department responsible for EU policy on the environment. It aims to protect, preserve and improve the environment for present and future generations, proposing and implementing policies that ensure a high level of environmental protection and preserve the quality of life of EU citizens. It also makes sure that Member States apply EU environmental law correctly and represents the European Union in environmental matters at international meetings.

DG Environment’s mission follows from the General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 (7th EAP) “Living well, within the limits of our planet”:

To develop and facilitate the implementation of policies and legislation that contribute to enabling EU citizens to live well, within the planet’s ecological limits, based on an innovative, circular economy, where biodiversity is protected, valued and restored and environment-related health risks are minimized in ways to enhance our society’s resilience, and where growth has been decoupled from resource use.

The 8th Environment Action Program is in progress.

Strategy of DG Environment comprise 6 specific objectives:

  • Specific Objective 1: The EU economy is resource-efficient, green and competitive – To maintain growth and stay competitive the EU needs to move from the current linear economy based on extraction, production, consumption and disposal to a circular resource efficient model where resources are preserved.
  • Specific Objective 2: The Union’s natural capital is protected, conserved and enhanced – Conserving and managing ecosystems in a sustainable manner will ensure the long term availability of goods and services that ecosystems supply.
  • Specific Objective 3: The Union’s citizens are safeguarded from environment-related pressures and risks to health and well-being – Maintaining the good quality of natural resources such as clean air, quality water and productive soil contributes to the health and wellbeing of EU citizens and preserves the basis of key economic activities
  • Specific Objective 4: There is an enabling framework for environmental policy, based on smart implementation, a strong knowledge and evidence base, investment, and improved environmental integration and policy coherence – Four elements are crucial to create and maintain an enabling framework for environmental policy: timely and even implementation of existing policies and legislation; knowledge and evidence-based policy making; the integration of environmental considerations into other policies and a sufficient level of EU investment.
  • Specific Objective 5: The Union’s cities are more sustainable – The quality of the urban environment depends on a range of policies and actors at different levels. DG Environment focuses on promoting sustainable planning and best practices, with initiatives such as the Green Capital Award.
  • Specific Objective 6: The Union is more effective in addressing international environmental challenges – Global pressures can be addressed more effectively through collaboration with international partners. At the same time, EU business can play a key role in greening the global economy.

The Directorate-General is organised into an Office of the Director-General, Deputy Director-General and 6 directorates:

Directorate A: Policy, Coordination, LIFE Governance and Resources

  • ENV.A1: Coordination, Inter-Institutional Relations Planning & HR Business Correspondent
  • ENV.A2: Communication
  • ENV.A3: Environmental Knowledge, Eco-Innovation & SMEs
  • ENV.A4: LIFE Governance, Administration, IT & Support Services
  • ENV.A5: Finance

Directorate B: Circular Economy and Green Growth

  • ENV.B1: Sustainable Production, Products & Consumption
  • ENV.B2: Sustainable Chemicals
  • ENV.B3: Waste Management & Secondary Materials

Directorate C: Quality of Life

  • ENV.C1: Clean Water
  • ENV.C2: Marine Environment & Water Industry
  • ENV.C3: Clean Air
  • ENV.C4: Industrial Emissions & Safety

Directorate D: Natural Capital

  • ENV.D1: Land Use & Management
  • ENV.D2: Biodiversity
  • ENV.D3: Nature Protection

Directorate E: Implementation and Support to Member States

  • ENV.E1: Mainstreaming & Environmental Assessments
  • ENV.E2: Environmental Implementation
  • ENV.E3: Environmental Enforcement
  • ENV.E4: Compliance & Better Regulation

Directorate F: Global Sustainable Development

  • ENV.F1: Sustainable Development Goals, Green Finance & Economic Analysis
  • ENV.F2: Bilateral & Regional Environmental Cooperation
  • ENV.F3: Multilateral Environmental Cooperation


The Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) leads the European Commission’s efforts to fight climate change at EU and international level.

Climate action is at the heart of the European Green Deal – an ambitious package of measures ranging from ambitiously cutting greenhouse gas emissions, to investing in cutting-edge research and innovation, to preserving Europe’s natural environment. First climate action initiatives under the Green Deal include:

  • European Climate Law to enshrine the 2050 climate-neutrality objective into EU law
  • European Climate Pact to engage citizens and all parts of society in climate action
  • 2030 Climate Target Plan to further reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030

Within the framework of the European Green Deal, DG CLIMA:

  • formulates and implements cost-effective policies for the EU to meet its climate targets for 2020, 2030 and beyond, especially on greenhouse gas emissions and protection of the ozone layer
  • ensures climate change is taken into account in all other EU policies and that adaptation measures will reduce the EU’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change
  • leads the Commission task forces in international negotiations on climate change and ozone-depleting substances, and coordinates bi-lateral and multi-lateral partnerships on climate change with non-EU countries
  • implements the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and promotes its links with other carbon trading systems, with the ultimate aim of building a global carbon trading market.
  • monitors how EU member countries are implementing their national targets in sectors outside the EU ETS (“Effort Sharing Decision”).

General Objective of DG CLIMA is to support the development of a resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Policy.

Strategy of DG CLIMA comprise 7 specific objectives:

  • Specific objective 1: Ensuring further development and ensuring a well-functioning EU carbon market, via the EU ETS, towards further reduction of GHG emissions by energy power and heat generation installations, by energy-intensive industries and by domestic aviation.
  • Specific objective 2: A fair and operational framework for MS towards a further reduction of GHG emissions in the non-ETS sectors in the EU (agriculture, forestry, land use, buildings, transport, waste)
  • Specific objective 3: Further decarbonisation of the transport sector in the EU through development and implementation of harmonised policies (in cooperation with other DGs)
  • Specific objective 4: Increased resilience of EU society against the effects of climate change via effective support to MS respecting the subsidiarity principle (adaptation)
  • Specific objective 5: Optimisation and sound and efficient management of financial incentives to support the innovation-based shift towards a low carbon and climate-resilient EU economy (through the EU budget and the (ETS) funds)
  • Specific objective 6: Implementation of the Energy Union Strategy towards an enhanced climate and energy governance mechanism related to spending programme(s) including streamlined reporting and planning post 2020
  • Specific objective 7: Ambitious contribution to effective international negotiations (including bilateral cooperation and climate diplomacy) on climate (UNFCCC, Kyoto, Paris, ICAO, IMO) and ozone layer (Montreal) related matters

The Directorate-General is organised into an Office of the Director-General, Deputy Director-General and 3 directorates:

Directorate CLIMA.A: International, Mainstreaming & Policy Coordination

  • CLIMA.A.1: International Relations
  • CLIMA.A.2: Climate Finance, Mainstreaming, Montreal Protocol
  • CLIMA.A.3: Adaptation
  • CLIMA.A.4: Planning, Financial Resources & HR Business Correspondent

Directorate CLIMA.B: European & International Carbon Markets

  • CLIMA.B.1: ETS Policy Development and Auctioning
  • CLIMA.B.2: ETS Implementation & IT
  • CLIMA.B.3: International Carbon Market, Aviation and Maritime

Directorate CLIMA.C: Climate strategy, Governance and Emissions from Non-trading Sectors

  • CLIMA.C.1: Strategy & Economic Assessment
  • CLIMA.C.2: Governance & Effort Sharing
  • CLIMA.C.3: Land Use and Finance for Innovation
  • CLIMA.C.4: Road Transport

EU Agencies

EU agencies are distinct bodies from the EU institutions – separate legal entities set up to perform specific tasks under EU law.

Decentralised agencies

Decentralised agencies contribute to the implementation of EU policies. They also support cooperation between the EU and national governments by pooling technical and specialist expertise from both the EU institutions and national authorities. Decentralised agencies are set up for an indefinite period and are located across the EU.

Decentralised agencies contribute to the implementation of EU policies. They also support cooperation between the EU and national governments by pooling technical and specialist expertise from both the EU institutions and national authorities. Decentralised agencies are set up for an indefinite period and are located across the EU.

  • Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)
  • European Labour Authority
  • Agency for Support for BEREC (BEREC Office)
  • Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO)
  • European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)
  • European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex)
  • European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA)
  • European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
  • European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
  • European Banking Authority (EBA)
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
  • European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)
  • European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
  • European Environment Agency (EEA)
  • European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA)
  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
  • European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound)
  • European GNSS Agency (GSA)
  • European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
  • European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA)
  • European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)
  • European Medicines Agency (EMA)
  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
  • European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA)
  • European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL)
  • European Police Office (Europol)
  • European Union Agency for Railways (ERA)
  • The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)
  • European Training Foundation (ETF)
  • European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
  • European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
  • Single Resolution Board (SRB)
  • European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust)
  • Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (CdT)


Besides Decentralized agencies, the following ones are in place:

  • Agencies under Common Security and Defence Policy
  • Executive agencies (set up for a limited period of time by the European Commission to manage specific tasks related to EU programmes)
  • EURATOM agencies and bodies
  • Other organisations (bodies set up as part of EU programmes and public-private partnerships between the European Commission and the industry).

European Environment Agency

The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an EU agency tasked with providing sound, independent information on the environment. It operates as a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public.

EEA’s mandate is to:

  • help the EU and its member countries make informed decisions about improving the environment, integrating environmental considerations into economic policies and moving towards sustainability
  • develop and coordinate Eionet, the European Environmental Information and Observation network, which involves over 300 institutions across Europe

EEA staff are primarily located at the organisation’s headquarters in Copenhagen and include experts on environment and sustainable development, information management and communication.

The agency closely cooperates with the designated national contact (or ‘focal’) points in 32 participating countries, as well as other national bodies (environment agencies, ministries, etc.) responsible for coordinating Eionet activities on their territory.

To support data collection, management and analysis, the EEA has also set up and runs European Topic Centres covering major environmental issues. These centres are also networks, comprising some 90 specialised institutions across Europe.

The EEA main themes include:

  • informing policy implementation – with feedback and input to EU policy frameworks, objectives and targets, through continuous reporting on progress on key environmental issues
  • assessing systemic challenges – taking a macro, cross-sector and long-term view, to support the EU’s Environment Action Programme
  • joint knowledge creation & use – building and maintaining the networks of people and information systems
  • continuously improving efficiency and effectiveness.

EEA maintains the database of environmental indicators and publishes specialized reports on: air and climate (air pollution, climate change adaptation and mitigation), nature (biodiversity — ecosystems, land use, soil, water and marine environment), sustainability and well-being (environment and health, policy instruments, resource efficiency and waste, sustainability transitions) and economic sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Industry, Transport).