The European Union plays an active and often initiating role in determining the direction of environmental policy at the international level. 

Over the decades, the European Union has built a consistent set of legislative mechanisms, action strategies and initiatives on environmental matters: the Community acquis.

This Community acquis includes a large number of legal acts, usually Directives but also Regulations that cover topics as wide and varied as the quality of air and water, waste management, placing of chemical products and agents on the market, protection of nature and conservation of biodiversity, climate change, environmental rights of citizens.

Member States implement the Community acquis on their territory.

In Belgium, the Federal State and the Regions ensure that it is implemented in accordance with the sharing of environmental responsibilities between the levels of authority.