EU Environmental Law – a simple introduction

Law is a powerful tool to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis. Understanding its basics can help to strengthen political activism and advocacy that pushes for stronger and more ambitious laws and also provides us with the background to identify where we might be able to challenge environmentally-harmful practices, decisions, or failures to take action.

With this handbook, we, therefore, want to go back to the basics and provide a common ground to help us understand the available tools and mechanisms at the EU level.

Through the handbook, you will get an overview of:

  • The key tools of EU environmental law, including the difference between a Directive and a Regulation, the relationship between EU and national law

  • The relevant actors in implementing and enforcing EU environmental law

  • The available steps when Member States and EU institutions do not comply

  • The important role of civil society in ensuring the proper application of EU environmental law

The handbook also contains practical guidance on how to read a Directive or a judgment by the Court of Justice of the EU to help you make sense of and use EU environmental law.

By the end, the handbook will have hopefully given you an overview of the ‘tools’ that are helpful to know about in order to be an active EU citizen and environmental activist. Throughout the handbook, we provide lots of links to help you go deeper if you are interested and also provide further resources at the end.