A peek over our neighbours’ fence

13 June 2023, Ralph van Roessel

As a European environmental engineering consultancy, we take a keen interest in what approach the different member states in Europe take to tackle the environmental issues affecting us all. What strikes me most is that, generally speaking, the European Union has its house in order – whether it is waste, carbon emissions, protecting conservation areas or the availability of clean drinking water. In most cases, the EU has provided its member states with clear policy and frameworks to address the environmental issues effectively in each national context.

What is fascinating to see, therefore, is that the individual member states each in their own way subsequently go on to make a complete mess of implementing that policy and legislation. And with major consequences. For years, Italy has had an immense waste-management problem, Belgium is struggling with asbestos and in our own country all construction and infrastructure activities have almost completely ground to a halt by our inability to reduce nitrogen emissions adequately. These are all examples of the enormous social impact that could have been prevented if we had looked over our neighbour’s fence to learn how other countries tackle those issues.

I am convinced that in solving environmental problems, Europe could benefit greatly from cross-border learning. At TAUW, we already have several years’ experience doing this, and it has yielded some interesting results. In Germany for example, we are carrying out projects using Dutch flood models, TAUW countries including the Netherlands are benefitting from our Spanish colleagues’ knowledge of drought and within the TAUW Group, countries are actively sharing their knowledge of substances of very high concern, such as PFAS and lead.

In the coming years we can expect a number of other challenges, definitely in the area of biodiversity and clean surface water, with further disruptive impact on society. The EU legislation for these challenges has largely been developed but in many countries, including the Netherlands, the implementation of that policy is already far behind schedule. To me that seems like a good reason to take a peek at what the neighbours are doing.

Ralph van Roessel, Co-CEO TAUW Group


Do you have a question about this blogs?

Please contact us below.