Implementing European law and policy in the Netherlands could be made more straightforward by taking greater account of specific national characteristics and choices. The Council recommends conducting impact assessments when European policies and laws are first conceived, studying the choices that other countries make and making better use of the scope for freedom of action that European law allows.
There is a tendency these days to favour weaker environmental quality standards for fear of impeding progress on infrastructure projects. The Council believes this is unwise: the Netherlands has much to gain from ambitious European environmental quality standards and should continue advocating sufficiently rigorous European requirements. Stringent EU standards aimed at reducing pollution at source are vital to the Netherlands’ efforts to meet Europe’s strict requirements for environmental quality, and the Netherlands should continue to call for environmental quality standards to be linked to strict source control standards. It is also essential that member states be given latitude in respect of circumstances that are specific to their national situation.
Judicial review proceedings on building and infrastructure projects are initiated much more frequently in the Netherlands than in other EU member states. The Dutch administrative courts work quickly and efficiently. In order to create a truly level playing field in the EU, national differences in administrative law (access to courts, speed of settlement) should be reduced. To that end, the VROM Council calls for an EU-wide discussion on the differences in national legal protection and their impact on the application of, and compliance with, European legal standards.