Justice & Environment PRESS RELEASE

Category: Natura
Complaint to the Commission lodged today as the practice of environmental assessments in member states has proven illegal

May 2, 2018


NGO Justice and Environment lodged a complaint [1] to the European Commission today, calling for it to launch a scrutiny concerning the Member States’ breach of the EU Habitats Directive article 6(3) [2] and their disregard of its interpretation by the Court of Justice of EU.


With its complaint the J&E network wants to draw the European Commission’s attention to this issue not only in the three Member States directly concerned -  Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, but also other EU member countries.


“Systemic breaches of the impact assessment obligation lead to the authorisation of projects harmful to habitats and species of pan-European priority. Such projects threaten our common heritage and jeopardise the coherence of the network in the whole of EU. This provides a serious obstacle to the realisation of the EU action plan for nature, people and the economy [3]. Attempts to stop the illegal practice by our member organisations and other national environmental NGOs on the national level have had no success which led us to addressing it at the next level and lodging a complaint to the European Commission," stated Siim Vahtrus, topic leader for the Environmental Assessments of Justice and Environment.


The Commission should now review the complaint and then open communication with the Member States concerned to address the issue. In case the breach is not dealt with, the European Commission may bring an action against the Member States in the Court of Justice of EU. The complaint has been compiled by the NGO Justice and Environment, with the input of its member organisations Bankwatch Association (Romania), Bluelink (Bulgaria) and VIA IURIS (Slovakia).


Notes for Editors:

[1] Full complaint to EC

[2] Under EU nature protection rules, development plans and projects which could impact sites designated as protected as part of the Natura 2000 network must be assessed to ensure that they do not jeopardise natural habitats and the species which live there. Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive states that if it cannot be proven that a project or plan will not have a significant effect on a protected area then it should not go ahead. Natura 2000 is the EU’s network of protected sites and is the largest of its kind in the world. It was established by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.

[3] EU Action Plan for nature, people and economy  was adopted by EU environment ministers in 2017, contributing to the EU 2020 main target - halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services.

Established in 2003, Association Justice and Environment (J&E) is a European network of environmental law organizations that strives to protect the environment and nature by improving environmental legislation and enhancing the enforcement thereof.



For more information, please contact:

Siim Vahtrus, Topic Leader for Environmental Assessments, J&E,, phone + 372 5568 3880

Katre Liiv, Communications Officer, J&E,, phone +372 507 6519