NEWS

News from Austria

07-01-2020
Category: Aarhus

EU Treaty Infringement Proceeding against Austria

The EU Commission is initiating EU Treaty infringement proceedings against Austria because of its controversial Standort-Entwicklungsgesetz (Act on the Development and Advancement of the Economic Location Austria). Criticism is directed at the regulation according to which the EIA authority must decide on “location-relevant projects of special public interest for the Republic of Austria” “without unnecessary delay, but at the latest within twelve months after the application is submitted”. After the time has run out, the competence to decide on the permission of project might directly ahift from the EIA authority to the Federal Court of Administration. In the Commission's view, this provision prevents a well-founded assessment of the environmental impact of complex projects.

Statements of a Federal Ministry in course of the legislation process can be “environmental information” in the sense of the Aarhus Convention

The Austrian Supreme Administrative Court (VwGH) dealt with the question of whether statements of the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism in the course of review procedures on draft legislation are to be regarded as “environmental information” in the sense of the Austrian Environmental Information Act (UIG). It came to the conclusion that this can (at least in abstract terms) indeed be the case. In the specific case in question, an environmental organisation requested the Ministry’s Comments on the draft of the controversial Standort-Entwicklungsgesetz (Act on the Development and Advancement of the Economic Location Austria) on basis of the UIG.