The Republic of Ireland has made significant progress across a range of environmental policy areas and has taken important steps towards a circular economy, according to an EU Environmental Implementation Review.

This review report does not cover climate change, chemicals and energy.

It found that one of the main challenges Ireland faces with regard to implementing EU environmental policy and law is the need to complete the Natura 2000 designation process, with clearly defined conservation objectives, for terrestrial and marine sites.

Other challenges facing Ireland include protecting the raised and blanket bogs and maintaining the important investments required for water services, given the urgent need to invest in water infrastructure.

The EU report also found that Ireland could perform better on issues where a sound knowledge base and good practices already exist.

This applies in particular to making better use of the significant potential in nature for tourism by better managing and protecting natural sites.

Meanwhile, where Ireland leads in environmental implementation, it could share innovative approaches more widely among other countries.

The report found that in this case, a concrete example included that to comply with a ruling by the Court of Justice, Ireland implemented a major reform of its waste sector, closed illegal landfills and financed costly clean-up and remediation works.

This exercise has transformed the waste sector in Ireland, providing useful lessons for other countries, according to the report.

Over 10 years ago, the Network for Ireland’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (NIECE) was  established in Ireland.

This was to ensure an effective, national approach to enforcing environmental legislation.

Ireland has taken a proactive approach towards managing complaints in the environmental sector, in cooperation with the Commission, it found.