A correct environment policy from its conception to its implementation and control depends highly on the quantity and the quality of relevant information. Without data, it is not possible to monitor environment-related phenomena and to validate the models used to predict their evolution. Therefore, environmental data and information are very important instruments, which, together with other technical, financial and legal tools, allow an adequate policy formulation and make the assessment of its implementation possible.Information is not only a requirement for policy-making or strategic planning but a tool of vital importance at the other two levels of the decision-making process: managerial and operational. In any case, to be useful, information must be relevant to the end to be achieved, complete and easily understood. If there is a need for data interchange, then it must be comparable and easily available.In past years, the European Union has issued a number of legal instruments (directives and council and commission decisions) on the harmonization of information exchange and on making the access to environmental information easier. However, this harmonization per se does not guarantee either better and comparable data or better information on the environment. There is a need for harmonizing all phases of data management from data acquisition to data archiving and processing.At the European level this task is now assigned to the European Environmental Agency (EEA) which was created to supply those concerned with the Community environmental policy with reliable and comparable information. Meanwhile, a significant component of the European Water Policy is under revision.After some generic considerations on information requirements, this paper addresses the role of information in the decision-making process both at national and European levels and summarizes the European Union water policy on data harmonization and exchange.
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- Data Management and the European Union Information Policy
M. A. Santos
- Springer Netherlands