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ClientEarth Communications

10th November 2016

Rule of law
Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

Draft findings of Compliance Committee - EU in violation of access to justice provisions of Aarhus Convention

The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) is a UN body responsible for enforcing the Aarhus Convention on court access. In July this year, it responded to ClientEarth's case against the European Commission, confirming that the EU is breaching the law.

This document explains the decision of the ACCC, in which it said the EU was in violation of the Convention for not providing access to the Court of Justice of the EU to members of the public.

In this analysis, ClientEarth senior lawyer Anaïs Berthier explains: "This outcome constitutes a clear indication that the European Court’s interpretation of the criteria laid down in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU on access to the EU courts is too strict to meet the requirements under the Convention.

"What is more, it makes it clear that the regulation which applies the Convention does not provide for an adequate administrative review procedure and leaves the European Union in non-compliance.

"The conclusions of the Committee should lead the EU to adopt the necessary steps to ensure that decisions of EU institutions are subject to adequate, effective, fair and equitable review mechanisms in full compliance with the principles and rights laid down in the Convention."

In October, the Commission replied to the UN committee criticism with arguments that had already been dismissed by the ACCC.

It continued to claim that EU citizens have access to the EU courts. This is demonstrably wrong, as no individual or campaign group has ever been allowed to bring an environmental case against an EU institution to the European Court of Justice.

The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee is expected to publish its final findings on our case in early 2017.

Download Draft findings of the Aarhus Compliance Committee - the EU is in violation of the access to justice provisions of the Aarhus Convention