Press release

EU elections: Lawyers poised to ‘defend our future’ as new EU Parliament eyes environmental backtrack

10 June 2024

In the wake of the European elections – which saw some parties promise to backtrack on environmental and climate laws – ClientEarth's lawyers and policy advisors have warned against attempts to roll back environmental and democratic rules.

ClientEarth lawyers say the newly elected members of the European Parliament (MEPs) must guarantee the security of Europeans against the environmental, economic and health impacts of the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises.

To address this triple crisis, the previous European Commission launched the EU Green Deal in 2019 – the EU's much-heralded strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

But over the past year, MEPs from the conservative and far-right parties have increasingly pushed back against the EU Green Deal and the EU’s environmental standards in general  –  campaigning to abandon the EU’s flagship legislation to protect and restore nature, and weaken the Common Agricultural Policy’s environmental requirements.

Head of ClientEarth’s Brussels office Anaïs Berthier said :

“The parties that gained significant MEPs in these elections have run a dangerous and misleading campaign against environmental legislation, which has become the scapegoat for all that is wrong at EU level. This is deeply worrying and the truth is exactly the contrary. They campaigned on security, but ignored the major security risks that the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises pose for Europeans.

“Carrying on with business as usual, or worse, opting for a deregulation agenda, threatens our very survival. Our MEPs have a duty to put the interests of Europeans first – that means protecting and restoring our planet, which we depend on to survive and build a more climate resilient and just society. As environmental lawyers, we will be watching – and poised to defend our future if we need to.”

The frontline of climate and environmental threats is often framed as distant. But as the fastest warming continent in the world, Europe is not only at the mercy of climate change, but also increasingly impacted by biodiversity loss and toxic pollution, which threaten businesses, the economy and the health of millions of Europeans.

ClientEarth’s lawyers and policy experts are concerned that the newly elected MEPs could set aside the need to protect people and the environment when scientists warn that there is still so much the EU needs to do to reach carbon neutrality and achieve the ecological transition.

Berthier added: “For Europe's security, its economy and for future generations, EU leaders must integrate the environment in every decision – that is why we are calling for the appointment of a new Vice-President for People and the Environment. They must build on the laws we already have and put people at the centre of their implementation. Protecting the environment is not something we can do for one mandate and abandon during the next – it is an essential foundation for a thriving – and even functional – EU.”


Notes to editors:

In a manifesto published this year, ClientEarth’s law and policy advisors have highlighted four main priorities for the next EU leaders:

  1. Appoint a European Commission Vice-President for People and the Environment: This position would follow through and build on the European Green Deal's climate, nature, and social commitments and integrate them across all EU decision-making.
  2. Review EU budgets and funding: End public funding to activities detrimental to the environment, beginning with fossil fuels and energy-intensive industries; Increase support for a just transition and the application of the polluter pays principle.
  3. Enhance environmental implementation resources: Bolster enforcement efforts by increasing capacity and resources dedicated to environmental implementation at both EU and national levels.
  4. Strengthen environmental democracy: Uphold access to information, public participation, and access to justice rights to empower civil society in enforcing relevant laws.

Read more on how the EU can build a new legal approach to protect people's health, nature and the economy.

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.