The EU has adopted a new tool to help Member States stick to environmental rules.
The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) aims to improve the implementation of EU standards on waste management, nature and biodiversity and air and water quality by finding the causes of problems and working out solutions before they become urgent.
It says the full implementation of these legislations could save the EU economy €50 billion (£42.6bn) every year.
The tool maps 28 countries’ national strengths, opportunities and weaknesses, examines common trends and makes recommendations for improvements.
The review says there are a number of root causes common to several Member States: ineffective co-ordination between administrative levels, insufficient capacity and a lack of knowledge and data.
The EIR shows waste prevention remains an important challenge for all Member States – six have not managed to limit the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste. Full compliance with EU waste policy by 2020 could create additional 400,000 jobs.
In 23 out of 28 Member States, air quality standards are still exceeded, totalling more than 130 cities across Europe.
In water quality and management, most Member States struggle to reach full compliance on collection and treatment of urban wastewater and 13 face EU legal action.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “Patchy and uneven implementation of environmental rules helps no one.
“Improving how environmental laws are applied benefits citizens, public administrations and the economy. This review provides the information, the tools and the timetable to do this.”
The town of Essen in Germany has officially become the European Green Capital for 2017.