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Sebastian Bechtel

17th June 2020


Commission accepts access to justice complaints concerning Poland and Bulgaria

The latest Commission infringement package brings some good news for access to justice.

A bit over one year ago, we wrote in this newsletter about two Commission complaints about the failure by the Polish and the Bulgarian courts to give standing to individuals and NGOs to challenge air quality plans. We mentioned that ClientEarth had filed two complaints to the European Commission in relation to this failure to comply with EU law.

On 14 May, the Commission informed us that they had sent a letter of formal notice to both the Polish and the Bulgarian governments based on our complaint. Both governments have now four months to remedy the situation. If the Commission is not satisfied with the response it received, it can send a reasoned opinion and, following that, initiate proceedings before the Court of Justice (CJEU).

As part of the same infringement package, the Commission has also sent letters of formal notice to two further Member States in relation to access to justice issues. One letter concerns barriers to access to justice in Lithuania that prevent citizens and NGOs from effectively challenging administrative acts setting quotas to hunt wolves. Another concerns the failure by Cyprus to oblige the competent authorities to make available practical information on administrative and judicial review procedures under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive.

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.