When will environmental NGOs be granted access to the EU Courts?

Category: Aarhus

United Nations' special body, the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee found the EU in breach of the Convention in 2017 for not guaranteeing access to the EU Courts for environmental NGOs. This week a meeting was held with the participation of Milieu Ltd. legal experts and a few invited NGOs that are active in access to justice in environmental matters in the EU Member States or on the EU level, amongst others Justice & Environment. The meeting was preceded by the distribution of a few questions about possible legal avenues and their usefulness in seeking remedies as well as the fairness of the current system that need to be answered in order to see where we are heading. The meeting revealed a consensus among the NGOs most active in this field that the current system of no access to the EU Courts is clearly against the requirements of the Aarhus Convention.

Justice & Environment Access to Justice Topic Leader Csaba Kiss says: “Current situation where environmental NGOs in the EU cannot go to EU Courts in critical matters, is absolutely ridiculous. A number of wrong or even unlawful decisions by the EU institutions remain unchallenged only because those who could question them are not allowed to request effective remedies.

The solution out of this unlawful situation is still to be defined by Milieu and decided by the EU Commission, Council and Parliament by the second half of 2019.

After its start in September 2018, the project contracted out by the European Commission and managed by Milieu Ltd., a Brussels-based consulting company has arrived at the stage of stakeholder consultation meetings. This project is collecting information on the state of play in the implementation of the Aarhus Convention with special regard to access to justice. Its purpose is to find a range of possible solutions out of which the EU will have to choose in order to change either its legislation or its practice.

Have your say in the public consultation of Aarhus Convention access to justice in environmental matters area, open until March 14, if you are interested in a better regulation in the future.