European-court-hearing-on-access-to-information

Latest news: European court hearing on access to information

We believe European citizens have the right to know whether or not Member States comply with EU environmental law. That’s why we appealed a decision of the General Court of the EU that would allow the European Commission to keep this information confidential. The hearing is on Thursday (15 January).

The Court had to decide whether studies made by private contractors at request of the European Commission, and which examined whether national laws complied with the requirements of EU law, could be made available to the public. The national laws investigated notably related to: hazardous waste; waste from extractive industries; drinking water and bathing water quality.

In September 2013, the Court decided that such studies were part of an investigation procedure and could therefore be kept confidential by the Commission. Furthermore, the Court decided that the EU was entitled to not apply the Aarhus Convention on access to environmental information in this case.

These studies are different from all the documents that have already been the subject of court rulings. They only contain objective data and do not feature any confidential information. The Commission is not in any way bound by these studies; it can ignore them or take them into consideration. The Commission can also decide to open an infringement proceeding against a Member State and base this on the findings of such studies – or not.

Anaïs Berthier, senior lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “It’s a bad day for democracy when the Commission can treat violation of EU law by Member States as confidential information. It is unacceptable that we still can’t find out whether governments are complying with EU environmental law on such important issues such as hazardous waste and water quality.”

The hearing is on Thursday and a judgment is expected later this year.

Share this...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

sprklg

Related articles

More from

image of frost on thistles

New UK rules make it harder to bring environmental court cases

New rules in environmental court cases will have a chilling effect on the UK justice system, making it harder to bring cases like ClientEarth’s challenge to the UK government over cancer-causing air pollution.

Girl holding parents' hands to illustrate story saying Commission ignores UN rebuke on access to EU Court

Commission ignores UN rebuke on access to EU Court

The European Commission continues to block court access in environmental cases, answering a UN committee rebuke with tired arguments that have already been dismissed.

Autumn leaves of different colours close up

Belgian region halts EU-Canada trade deal

The Belgian region of Wallonia has rejected the controversial EU-Canada trade and investment deal known as CETA.

EU illegal timber trade

European Environmental Law Observatory News – September 2016

This issue of the European Environemtnal Law Observatory Newsletter covers materials published between July and September 2016.

Explore our work

Follow us

Newsletters

Get our regular email newsletters, they contain the latest updates on our work as well as features and articles about environmental issues, science and politics.