8 November 2019
On 25 September, ClientEarth held its sixth training within the framework of the project "Access to justice for a greener Europe" at the European Commission Representation in Poland. It was addressed to representatives of non-governmental organizations.
Speakers included NGO activists (Małgorzata Kwiędacz-Palosz and dr Łukasz Walter, ClientEarth, Piotr Chmielewski, WWF Polska, Eliza Rutynowska, Polish Society for Anti-Discrimination Law), academic teachers (dr Olga Łachacz, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn) and representatives of the European Commission in Poland (Rafał Szyndlauer, Deputy Head of the Political Department).
During the training, tools to help individuals and non-governmental organizations to choose the right legal way to solve the environmental problem were presented, such as the digital platform on access to justice in environmental matters on ClientEarth’s website or the WWF intervention guide, .
The discussions focused on the question of NGOs' referrals to the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU before Polish courts. The effectiveness of taking such actions was considered, as so far no preliminary questions has ever been asked in the context of environmental protection in Poland. Participants also discussed the real impact of the findings of the Aarhus Committee and the legitimacy of filing communications, eg. the immediate enforceability of decisions issued on the basis of the so-called "special acts". They further exchanged their views on NGOs' participation in the process of transposing EU law.
The participants emphasised the added value of being able to share their experience about access to justice in environmental matters. They also highlighted the difficulties related to the practical enforcement of procedural rights granted under the Aarhus Convention.
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.