On the EIA Directive review:
- the EIA Directive is not only about shale gas, this is a very big piece of legislation regulating the environmental assessments which be done for any kind of industrial development.
- October 2012: The European Commission (EC) worked on the file to introduce new amendments in order to improve the existing text. However, the EC didn’t include any reference to shale gas or fracking
- Beginning of 2013: The file went to the EP. The rapporteur of the text, MEP Zanoni, accepted to include an amendment ensuring that shale gas projects would benefit from a mandatory EIA. The final proposal was agreed and approved by the Plenary Assembly in September.
- November-December 2013: The text agreed at the EP level was discussed in Trialogue (between EP, EC and the European Council representing the 27 member states). However what was called a “strong blocking minority” at the Council (lead by the UK, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czech Rep and Slovakia) rejected the amendments on shale gas. The EC remained silent, forcing the EP to yield to the pressure of the member states. However other non-shale gas related amendments were kept.
- 12 February 2014: The environmental committee of the EP will vote on the text agreed in Trialogue. If approved, it will be voted in the Plenary Assembly for a very final vote.
On the shale gas framework:
- September 2012: The EC published three studies about shale gas, including one about the environmental impacts considered as “high” for a number of impacts.
- November 2012: The EP voted two opinion reports on shale gas, including one about the environmental impacts and calling for legislative actions to adapt the EU regulatory framework accordingly
- December 2012: The EC announced it would run in 2013 an impact assessment to see if there is indeed a need for more legislation at the EU level in order adequately monitor the shale gas industry.
- 2013: The EC organised a whole series of activities (European Public Consultation, new studies, experts workshops…etc) to decide what to do. Several options were considered: A new stand alone legislation, review of existing legislation, recommendations to member states and industries or business as usual. This is notably as part of this process that Cameron wrote to Barroso to ask him not come out with a legislative proposal as he would oppose it whatever it would say.
- 22 January 2014: The EC presented its decision, which is one of the weakest option that was envisaged: Just some recommendations (therefore non-binding) to be followed by member states and industries.