The European Commission has opened a public consultation about the application of the polluter pays principle in environmental policy. The results will feed into recommendations for the implementation of this principle, which the Commission has announced as an element of its "Zero pollution action plan for air, water and soil”.
The EU authority says this "fitness check” is its response to a 2021 Special Report from the European Court of Auditors. The court found that the polluter pays principle is reflected and applied "to varying degrees” in the different EU environmental policy areas and therefore its "coverage and application was incomplete”.
The consultation survey asks to what extent the polluter pays principle is implemented in various sectors, one of which is "waste management and remediation activities”. Participants can also provide their views on the effectiveness of a range of instruments.
Moreover, they can comment on whether the implementation of the polluter pays principle causes "disproportionate costs to operators and consumers” and to what extent it contributes to achieving various objectives of the European Green Deal. Further questions relate to the "coherent and consistent application” of the principle.
A further aspect is the potential added value of EU-level requirements. The European Commission asks participants if there are cases where they believe the polluter pays principle could have been better implemented better by a market-based instrument at the EU level rather than a national instrument. Examples of such instruments include taxes, charges, fees, tradable permits and quotas, and payment for ecosystem services, according to the consultation document.
This target audience for the consultation is environmental NGOs, social representatives, business representatives, academia and EU countries, as well as the general public. The consultation can be accessed on the website of the European Commission and runs until 4 August 2023.