Before 21 July 2004, the Member States of the European Union (EU) were obliged to specify the type of plans and programmes that according to the provisions of the Council Directive on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Plans and Programmes on the Environment (or SEA Directive) had to undertake a systematic assessment of their effects on the environment. The uniformity of assessment procedures is a target that might be proved difficult to be attained by Member States with different planning procedures, cultures and environmental assessment traditions. The text that follows detects the transposition difficulties and opportunities by evaluating current SEA practice throughout the EU. The purpose is to provide an updated picture and suggest a generic guide for future initiatives aiming at successful implementation outcomes. This is especially relevant and hopefully helpful in view of the forthcoming Commission's first report on the application of the SEA Directive expected before 21 July 2006.