Chapter 27: Environment and EU Internal Market

Internal market of the EU is defined as an area without internal formal or physical barriers, where free movement of workers, goods, capital and services is guaranteed. It is based on the principle of free competition according to the competition rules that equally apply to all competitors in the area of internal market (level playing field). EU legal acts that regulate quality standards of the environment and complementary «ecological» standards for products, industrial production and business processes are the internal market rules. In fact, „ecological” standards of the EU represent the level below which free market competition cannot be achieved. Therefore, environmental policy of the EU is inseparable from its economic policy, internal market policy and common trade policy, competitiveness, energy security etc.

EU legal acts for implementing environmental policy are in the narrow sense instrument for implementing this policy determined at the EU level. In the broader sense, common EU rules are instrument for removing differences between national legislation, i.e. aligning of legal regime for free movement of goods, capital and services, in the internal market, from the prospect of environmental protection. At the same time, they are determining technical requirements for placement and import of goods on the common market, i.e. requirements that allow «greenfield» and «brownfield» investments in the EU.

EU legal acts proscribe quality standards of the environment, requirements related to production processes (including services domain), standards related to products and requirements related to planning and projecting. Quality standards of the environment define criteria of state of the environment or one of its part (water, air, soil) based on the certain (physical, chemical, ecological) parameter that needs to be achieved, maintained and/or improved by regulatory or other measures (Water framework directive, CAFE Directive, Noise Directive etc). Requirements related to industrial processes represent different requirements or conditions linked, directly or indirectly, to performance of certain production activities, i.e. the way of their performance. In other words, we are speaking about the performances in the environment that those activities have to achieve and techniques that need to be applied in comparison to the (abovementioned) quality standards of the environment, emission standards, energetic efficiency, responsible management of natural resources and industrial safety requirements.  Examples of such approach are Directive on industrial emissions, Directive on the landfill of waste, Communal waste water Directive etc. that are based on best available technique standards. Standards related to products define minimal ecological performances that certain product and/or packaging needs to meet before it is legally placed on the market. Those are different requirements deriving from EU directives related to elimination of risky composition, harmful emissions or noise, attributes or suitability of material for reuse, recycling or safe storage, energetic efficiency etc. In accordance with the principles of prevention, sustainable development and public participation in decision-making that can significantly influence environment, EU directives lay down decision procedures in domain of strategic planning and projecting. These acts intend to empower institutions in charge to make their strategic decisions according to the special procedure, along with previous analysis of all aspects of influence of plans, programmes and projects on the environment, consideration of most favourable alternatives (including renouncement) having in mind all most accessible information. These acts at the same time are guaranteeing right of the public to participate in the decision-making and to revise legality of such decision before the court (SEA Directive and EIA Directive).

Contact person:

Zoran Sretić, CEP Associate -

NOPS baner lat

Open Society Foundations

Regional Research Promotion Programme