A National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) will contain a combination of measures and actions aimed at addressing environmental problems. Among these, important measures which affect industrial standards of pollution release and other measures to restrict and control existing pollution levels which will require enforcement by the national authority. Monitoring the enforcement of new environmental protection measures and reporting findings in the NEAP is an important means to promote further environmental protection legislation, identify existing failures in enforcement, highlight successful enforcement measures and promote a collective attitude towards the national environment.
Effective enforcement of environmental laws and regulations is important to protect the environment and avoid distortions in competition.
The Environmental Programme for Europe recommends: (1) giving more attention to compliance monitoring and enforcement procedures for environmental legislation and promoting an international exchange of experiences in this field, including on the cost-effectiveness of compliance and enforcement activities; (2) encouraging the ratification of and ensuring compliance with international legal instruments in the field of the environment of relevance to the ECE region, in particular the ECE environmental conventions and protocols; and (3) encouraging the continuation of the work already undertaken within ECE to formulate guidelines relating to the question of responsibility and liability regarding transboundary pollution.
Rigorous but proportionate enforcement of legislation and standards, whether by government or by an agency, is crucial to the successful implementation of a NEAP and is another area where external support would often be helpful. A well designed enforcement system should not require great administrative effort. The use of self-policing enforcement measures may sometimes be more efficient and should be supported by the government. The specifying of ends rather than means, and the introduction of procedures to achieve those ends, should be stimulated in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.