This paper proposes an interpretative analysis of the state of implementation of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in the light of new developments at national and international levels. As proposed, this is the first phase of a project that aims to create a methodological path for the implementation of strategic environmental assessment of plans and programs along coastal sites. In particular we wish to reach a procedure that, starting from a specific vision of "environment", allows to identify environmental indicators of context and performance that are suitable in reading environmental state and trend. This paper is structured in three parts that analyze: 1. the set of rules in force, as a founding element in understanding and identifying strengths and limits in the analyzed case studies; 2. Italian and British manuals and guidelines on how to implement SEA; 3. 12 case studies selected from those submitted by eight European countries including Italy, Malta, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Sweden from August 2006 to June 2007. The main objective of current legislation analysis is the schematization of the structure and content of The Environmental Report, which helps to stabilize the state of implementation on applying European Directive 2001/42/EC in the individual cases of study. The detailed analysis of the manuals, selected from those available in English and Italian, is directed towards the understanding of how the availability and quality of these instruments can influence the characteristics of The Environmental Report. The information that is derived from the analysis as well as the comparison of the 12 case studies, are structured in matrix, and are designed to highlight the differences between the environmental reports about the environmental, cultural, and landscape topics that characterize the description of the environmental context, the criteria for the selection of indicators, along with the type of impact. These differences all lead to the classification of the reports in three groups with each one representing a specific point of view; each group is also described in its own specific characteristics and features. The contribution concludes with a number of indications on future developments from the research.
Keywords: Strategic environmental assessment (SEA), case study analysis.