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ClientEarth Communications

27th October 2016

Rule of law
Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

Commission ignores UN rebuke on access to EU Court

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

In its latest response to the case brought by environmental lawyers ClientEarth, the Commission continued to claim that it provides access to the EU courts. This is clearly false, as no individual or campaign group has ever been given permission to bring an environmental case against an EU institution to the European Court of Justice.

ClientEarth senior lawyer Anaïs Berthier said: “The Commission has shown yet again that it is happy to breach law on EU access to the courts. It actively prevents court access for people who want to challenge environmental decisions of EU institutions, while denying there is a problem.”

The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) is a UN body responsible for enforcing the Aarhus Convention on court access. In July this year, it confirmed that the EU is breaching the law.

The Committee found that the EU is violating the Convention. It also said that neither the jurisprudence of the EU Court, nor the regulation applying the Aarhus Convention, lets citizens bring environmental cases.

Berthier added: “The Commission challenges every point of the decision of the Compliance Committee. In its latest response, it repeated many arguments that have already been rejected by the ACCC.

“We brought this case in 2008. Eight years later, the EU is using delaying tactics to stall it even further. It is time for the Commission to honour the promise it made when it signed the Aarhus Convention. It is time to let citizens go to court to protect people and the planet.”

Read ClientEarth's briefing: Draft findings of the Aarhus Compliance Committee show the EU is in violation of the access to justice provisions of the Aarhus Convention