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ClientEarth Communications

5th July 2019

Rule of law
Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

Access to justice seminars in Germany, Spain and Belgium – June 2019


On June 3rd, German NGO UfU organised a training on access to justice in the House of Democracy and Human rights in Berlin.

The workshop started with a discussion on the German Environmental Rights Act, amended in 2017, which extended the collective action rights of recognized environmental associations while still partially failing to comply with EU law and requirements of the Aarhus Convention.

The presentations therefore focused on Aarhus implementation and current case law on access to justice. The recognition requirements for environmental associations in Germany were highlighted and discussed against the backdrop of the pending proceedings before the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention on the Recognition of WWF .

Another presentation focused on whether the cost risk for NGO plaintiffs represents a barrier to accessing courts within the meaning of the Aarhus Convention. Finally, participants discussed trends and challenges of using legal remedies in environmental matters.

All the presentations are available here (in German)

Germany seminar


On Tuesday 11th June IIDMA held the first access to justice training session in Spain targeting environmental lawyers and NGOs. It was hosted by the Representation of the European Commission in Madrid.

The training focused on Spain’s progress in environmental justice , together with the main barriers that still persist. The main topic discussed was the unprecedented Supreme Court Order of 13 March 2019, which exempted IIDMA from paying out court costs amounting to 11,260 € following a dismissed lawsuit against the Transitional National Plan (TNP) for large combustion plants. This order declared, for the first time in Spain, the annulment of the decisions approving the court costs assessment in an environmental procedure in favour of a non-for-profit organization in receipt of legal aid…

More details about the training can be found here

Alba Iranzo : The costs of Access to justice in other EU member states (in Spanish)

Ana Barreira : The right to free legal assistance and the legal costs in Spain (in Spanish)

Spanish seminar


On June 27, ClientEarth lawyers gave a training to help NGOs use their access to justice rights in respect of litigation, complaints and access to documents to advocate for the environment. The workshop was held in WWF EU office in Brussels with participants from WWF Belgium and Germany.

The goal of the seminar was to provide an overview of legal procedures at EU and national levels as well as some guidance on how to use them. Presentations focused specifically on challenging non-disclosure of environmental information and complaints to enforcement bodies and ombudsmen.

Presentations by Anne Friel and Sebastian Bechtel : Legal tools for environmental advocacy: litigation, complaints and access to documents

Belgium seminar

The project

Access to Justice is a fundamental means through which citizens and NGOs can support the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies to protect the environment. The goal of this ATOJ-EARL project is to achieve “Access to Justice for a Greener Europe”. It strives to enhance access to justice in environmental matters by providing information, training and support for the judiciary, public authorities and lawyers of eight European member states. ClientEarth and Justice and Environment are implementing this project with the financial support of the European Commission’s LIFE instrument.