EU Environmental Liability Directive Practice Exchange

EU ELD Practice Exchange


Listed below is information on the EU Environmental Liability Directive (ELD), related Directives, regulatory proposals and Member State Guidance for implementing the ELD.

The EU's Environmental Liability Directive

The “European Union Directive on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage” (ELD) was adopted by the European Parliament on 21 April 2004 and focuses primarily on the prevention of environmental damage. The ELD, which embodies concepts similar to the natural resource damages regime under US law, makes Member States responsible for ensuring that “damage to water, land and biodiversity is either prevented, by taking appropriate measures in cases of imminent threats, or effectively remedied by restoring the previous condition if the damage has already been done”. Industrial companies, including transporters or disposers of waste or hazardous waste, whose operations have resulted in the discharge of dangerous substances resulting in potential environmental damage to land, water and protected habitats and species may be subject to liability under the ELD.

  • Directive 2004/35/CE of The European Parliament and of The Council of 21 April 2004 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage”. Official Journal of the European Communities of 30 April 2004 (L 143). (Environmental Liability Directive)

Related Directives

  • DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on safety of offshore oil and gas operations and amending Directive 2004/35/EC
  • Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law
  • Directive 2009/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the geological storage of carbon dioxide and amending Council Directives 85/337/EED, European Parliament and Council Directives 2000/60/ED, 2001/80/ED, 2004/35/EC, 2006/12/EC, 2008/1/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006
  • Directive 2003/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2003 amending Council Directive 96/82/EC on the Control of Major-Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances.” Official Journal of the European Communities. (L 345/97) 31 December 2003. (Seveso II Directive)
  • “Directive 2000/60/EC of The European Parliament and of The Council of 23 October 2000 Establishing a Framework for Community Action in the Field of Water Policy”. Official Journal of the European Communities. 22 December 2000. (Water Framework Directive)
  • “Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 Concerning Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control”. (OJ L 257 , 10/10/1996 P. 0026 – 0040) (IPPC Directive)
  • “Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora”. (OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7), as Amended 29 September 2003. (Habitats Directive)
  • “Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the Conservation of Wild Birds”. (OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1), as Amended 14 April 2003. (Birds Directive)

Regulatory Proposals

  • Additional current regulatory proposals affecting the ELD will be posted here as appropriate.

Member State Guidance

Some Member State governments are preparing guidance documents to facilitate the implementation of the ELD into national laws. Final guidance documents have been prepared by Walloon Region of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and United Kingdom. In addition, some Member States have incorporated guidance in legislative documents. Queries about available guidance in individual Member States and/or updated information regarding available guidance in any Member State may be sent to us at

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