White Paper on environmental liability draws close

Work on a White Paper on environmental liability is now nearing completion within the European Commission's Environment Directorate, DGXI. The current target date for a collective Commission debate on the paper is June or July, although a delay until after the summer recess is possible. But even with a favourable wind, and assuming that opposition from key Member States can be overcome, an EC liability regime is unlikely to be in place for five years.

The desirability of an EC environmental liability regime has been a highly controversial subject ever since it was first discussed in the early 1980s during the passage of the 1984 Directive on transfrontier shipment of hazardous waste. Following abortive attempts in 1989 and 1991 at a Directive on civil liability for damage caused by waste, the current initiative took off in 1993 with a Commission Green Paper on remedying environmental damage

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