Environmental legislation

Environmental legislation and environmental law, including the Environmental Code


About environmental legislation and Swedish environmental law

Environmental law is a legal area that includes rules and the application of rules that relate to our external environment. The external environment is the surroundings, everything that is around us, including nature and built-up areas. The term internal environment usually refers to the premises you stay in and is therefore more related to work environment law and labor law.

In the Riksdag and with the authorities, the work with environmental legislation aims to set up and seek to achieve environmental goals. In the legal scientific sense, environmental law includes the analysis of the environmental rules in relation to these goals that are set for the environment. Environmental legislation is based on the natural sciences, which meet different principles of environmental law. Conflict areas arise between the exploitation of natural resources, employment, individual property rights and climate work.

Legislation on the environment in Sweden is principle-based and strongly influenced by EU law. Basic principles are:

- Sustainable development - we must not drain the earth's resources

- The precautionary principle - risks should be avoided if we do not know

- The principle of legality - no one should be punished without legal support

- Subsidiarity principle - decisions must be made at the lowest appropriate level

- Proportionality principle - measures should not go beyond what is necessary for the purpose

- The "polluter pays" principle - whoever causes an environmental cost must pay

- The principle of the primacy of EU law - stands above Swedish law

EU law governs and a distinction must be made between directives from the EU, which must be implemented in Swedish law, and regulations that are directly applicable and legally superior to Swedish national law if a conflict of rules arises.

EU environmental legislation has resulted in wide-ranging acts and acts designed to regulate specific sectors.

Among the legal acts that have a large area of ​​application, we find EU directives on environmental impact assessments, EIAs, strategic EIAs, environmental information and eco-labeling. Environmental management and audit (EMAS), accident prevention (Seveso II) and legal environmental liability are other examples.

For specific sectors, EU directive regulations on industrial emissions (IPDD, IED), water (Framework Water Directive), air quality, waste, chemicals (REACH), climate, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), flora and fauna, fisheries and agriculture can be mentioned.

The national legislation in Sweden has the Environmental Code as its framework law. The Environmental Code is then supplemented by special legislation and government regulations. The Planning and Building Act is also of great importance in environmental law.

The first section of the Environmental Code contains general provisions of importance for the objectives of the Environmental Code - sustainable development. Here are also the general rules of consideration, rules on land and water as well as regulations on environmental quality standards and environmental impact assessments. The provisions in the first section thus describe quite well the conditions for the national Swedish environmental legislation.

The second section contains rules on special protection of areas as well as animal and plant species.

The third section regulates special types of activities, environmentally hazardous activities, health protection, polluted areas, agriculture, genetic engineering (GMOs), chemical products, biotechnological organisms and waste and producer responsibility.

The fourth to seventh sections contain provisions on judicial review, supervision, criminal sanctions and environmental sanction fees, as well as rules on compensation and damages.


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