Liability White Paper leaves questions unanswered

A long-awaited White Paper on environmental liability was finally published by the European Commission in February. 1 The document is much as expected from earlier drafts - though there is a hint that liability for damage caused by genetically modified organisms may be softer than for other activities and products, and a new commitment to consider a separate liability regime for tanker oil spills. The White Paper remains fuzzy on vital details - not least how damage to biodiversity, potentially its biggest innovation, will be measured and insurable. The Commission has also failed to explain what it sees as the first stage in its proposed step-by-step approach to creating an EC liability regime.

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