In response to the Community's promotion of alternative instruments, as evidenced by the Fifth Environmental Action Programme, the last decade has seen an increased use of environmental agreements. These agreements, which are known by several different names, including "voluntary agreements", "negotiated agreements" and "covenants", are typically executed between government and industry, although recent participants have also included NGOs, environmental interest groups and the general public. Yet, despite the successes of environmental agreements, they are not universally popular and, indeed, often suffer from a credibility problem. Part of this problem stems from the lack of enforceability of these agreements, which lack is in turn often caused by a failure to provide appropriate conditions for monitoring compliance or imposing sanctions.
This article begins with a review of what environmental agreements are, why they are useful and how they are created. That is followed by an analysis of how provisions for monitoring and sanctions can be utilised to enhance the efficiency and credibility of environmental agreements. The article next considers whether intervention by the state is necessary, and concludes with a look at the concept of the environmental agreement as a private law contract.European Energy and Environmental Law Review