Discussions in Brussels could lead to improved environmental democracy

Improved public access to EU courts is high on the agenda at a meeting of the Council of the EU this afternoon.

A working party of the Council of the EU is meeting to discuss public access to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Last year, the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee found that the European Union was in breach of the Aarhus Convention for preventing citizens and NGOs access to justice at EU level. However, the EU refused to endorse these findings.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have called for greatly improved public access to EU courts and hopes are high that the Council will adopt a decision during this meeting asking the Commission to comply with democratic rules.

ClientEarth senior lawyer Anais Berthier said:“We hope that this is a first step towards addressing the democratic deficit there is at EU level. The European Union institutions need to comply with the international rules that they agreed to.

“We want the European Commission to adopt the necessary measures and let NGOs challenge relevant EU decisions before the Court of justice of the European Union.”

The Aarhus Convention is a multilateral agreement signed by the 28 EU member states and the EU. Its goal is to guarantee the public’s right to access  information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

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