The EU's Environmental Liability Directive is the first piece of EU legislation in which the principle of causality is applied as one of the core aims. The Directive, which came into force on April 30th, 2004, establishes a joint system of liability with regard to the prevention and remediation of harm to animals, plants, natural habitats, water resources and soil. The liability applies to specific, explicitly stipulated activities, but also to other activities if the causing party has acted with intent or negligently.
The Environment Liability Directive assigns a key role to government agencies. Their task is to identify the parties responsible for the damage and to ensure that they carry out, or finance, the necessary preventive or remedial measures.
Back when the Environment Liability Directive was first being drafted, the project consortium investigated individual international and national liability regimes as well as the already existing European liability regime in order to devise proposals to optimise environmental liability. The focus of the project was on the "purely environmental" damage. adelphi worked on the economic aspects of the study together with RWI Bochum. The work of adelphi focused on the practical possibilities for monetarising environmental damage and its limits, as well as on possible alternative approaches.