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Brussels | 24 January 2022

ClientEarth's recommendations for the Conference on the future of Europe
European Green Deal
Rule of law

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ClientEarth's recommendations for the Conference on the future of Europe

The democratic deficit at EU level is persisting. Despite the repeated calls from civil society, rulings of
the Court of Justice of the EU and recommendations from the European Ombudsman requiring EU
institutions to be more transparent and to ensure citizens understand and participate in the decision-making process, the EU institutions play deaf.

Significant and strategic stages of the EU decision-making process including the legislative one are still
completely opaque. Opacity leads to suspicion. Transparency fosters trust. And when European
institutions, including Member States within the Council of the EU, adopt laws and decisions that impact
the life of more than 500 million citizens, their health and the environment they live in, trust is needed.

Trust requires compliance with the rule of law and being able to exercise the right to hold decision-makers to account. The EU must be exemplary in that regard. Its institutions must show their willingness
to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies such as the
Court of Justice of the EU, European Ombudsman, the European Court of Human rights and the Aarhus
Convention Compliance Committee. These institutions and bodies are the authoritative sources of
interpretation of the law EU institutions are subject to and their findings must be complied with, including
those which are not legally binding.

Not addressing these issues effectively and diligently also prevents the effective implementation and
enforcement of environmental legislation, including the one adopted within the European Green deal.
The climate and the biodiversity crises will not be tackled if the EU citizens are not provided with the
necessary rights to weigh in the decision-making process.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is the opportunity to repeat those calls. Despite the lack of
clarity and doubts subsisting on the possible outcome of this unprecedented process, EU institutions will
have to take into account the recommendations made by EU citizens at the risk of undermining even
more their credibility and widening the democratic deficit this whole process is supposed to address.

Our recommendations include:

  • Making transparency decision-making a reality at EU level
  • Granting the public direct access to the Court of Justice of the EU
  • Achieving EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Expanding the ordinary legislature procedure to all environmental matters