Spain discusses issues on access to justice during first national workshop

On 25 April, the Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Medio Ambiente (IIDMA), the Spanish partner of the A2J-EARL Project, hosted the launch event of the project at the European Commission Representation office in Madrid, Spain. It was a successful national workshop, which covered the status and main barriers on access to justice in environmental matters in Spain.

An overall 42 Spanish representatives of the legal sector attended the workshop, including: members of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the Judicial Academy and judges from the State Supreme Court and Madrid Administrative Court, public and private interest environmental lawyers, the Head of the Environmental Department of the Spanish Ombudsman, environmental law professors, representatives of the State and of some Autonomous Communities’ public administrations and NGOs.

After an introduction of the A2J-EARL project objectives, deliverables and timelines by Alba Iranzo of IIDMA, Dimitry Berberoff, Head of the Technical Cabinet of the Spanish Supreme Court and administrative judicial review judge gave a talk on environmental case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the Spanish Supreme Court. It was followed by a presentation on the legal regime on access to justice in environmental matters and its implementation in Spain, provided by Ana Barreira, Director of IIDMA. Finally, Gabriel Real environmental law professor from the University of Alicante focused on the existing challenges and opportunities of environmental legal education in Spain (graduate, postgraduate, PhD education and continuous training of judges).

Time for questions and discussion were key to collect feedback from the different legal professionals attending the event and brought to light some of the existing problems and barriers on access to justice in Spain. These mainly referred to: certain difficulties for NGOs to obtain legal aid at judicial cases, the excessive length of administrative and judicial procedures, the lack of human and technical resources in the public administrations as well as in the administration of justice and the absence of further education and training on environmental law both at the academic and professional stages.

Two training sessions on access to justice are planned to take place in Spain between the end of 2018 and the middle of 2020. As a positive outcome of this A2J national workshop, members of the judiciary have expressed the need for continuous training on environmental law matters and their willingness to organise interdisciplinary training sessions in Spain for judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

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