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ClientEarth Communications

21st April 2017

Rule of law
Access to Justice for a Greener Europe
EU

ClientEarth Environmental Democracy Update, Jan - Mar 17

We have seen significant developments in the field of EU environmental democracy in the first months of 2017. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee has found the European Union is breaching the law by stopping individuals and campaign groups taking environmental cases to court. A General Court judgment on access to electronic databases has highlighted the shortcomings of the EU's transparency rules.  A review of implementation of environmental law has brought to the fore the Juncker Commission's lack of concern for citizens' health. And the EU Ombudsman has opened an inquiry into Council transparency when discussing draft EU legislation.

We explore these updates and more in ClientEarth's Democracy Review - see the full update below. We cover information about how European institutions, member states and others are applying laws and regulations on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

We hope you find the update useful.

Anaïs Berthier, Senior Lawyer/Juriste, ClientEarth

Latest updates

Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee

UN rules EU is breaching law by blocking court access

The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee says the European Union is breaching the law by stopping individuals and campaign groups taking environmental cases to court. Read our legal analysis and news story.

Updates from the EU Ombudsman

EU Ombudsman opens inquiry into Council transparency when discussing draft EU legislation

The Ombudsman’s letter to the Council demonstrates a structured approach to the question of institutional transparency and demands answers to some significant questions on the Council’s current practice.

Updates from the courts

Judgment on access to information contained in electronic databases highlights transparency rules becoming obsolete

The Court of Justice has ruled that the EU’s transparency rules do not allow citizens to access information stored in electronic databases unless there is a pre-existing search tool to extract it.

Court of Auditors calls for more efforts in implementation of Natura 2000 network

The Court of Auditors published a report on the implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives. The report concentrates on management, financing and monitoring. The auditing report found deficiencies and gaps in each of the three areas.

General court ruling: NGOs cannot challenge decisions of EU institutions before the EU courts

A new ruling from the General Court finds that NGOs cannot challenge decisions of EU institutions before the EU courts. The only remedy they have is through the Aarhus Regulation which, according to the only ruling that has been handed down on the matter, only provides an indirect right of challenge.

Updates related to the institutions of the EU

Commission white paper on the future of Europe gives little importance to the environment

Ludwig Kramer explains why the Commission’s white paper on the future of Europe fails to recognize the environmental challenges facing Europe. The environment will survive without the EU, but the EU will not survive without an adequately protected environment.

Confidentiality provisions make pesticide statistics unfit for purpose

The Commission published a report on the application of Regulation 1185/2009 concerning statistics on pesticides. It concluded that the data on the sales of pesticides submitted to the Commission by the Member States are too aggregated to allow an effective analysis of environmental risks of active substances. Analysis by Ludwig Kramer

Long-awaited EU environment law implementation review shows Commission cares little for citizens’ health

The Commission has published a Communication on how the Member States have implemented and applied EU environmental legislation - but ClientEarth's Ludwig Kramer says it shows a lack of concern for citizens by the Juncker Commission.

Commission condemns delays in implementing Noise Directive as Fitness Check is published

The Commission’s fitness check of the noise directive has found important delays in its implementation

Commission finds nature directives fit for purpose but in need of better implementation

The Commission’s fitness checks serve to examine whether directives are still relevant or should be amended, in particular in view of deregulation, and continue to be acceptable to economic operators.

Commission reports on implementation of waste directives over four years late

The Commission has published a report on the implementation of the Waste Framework Directive, sewage sludge , packaging and packaging waste, electrical and electronic waste, batteries and landfills – four years late.

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