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EU begins consultation on access to environmental justice

On 3 July the EU launched a public consultation on the future of access to environmental justice:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/access_justice_en.htm

The consultation is looking at “whether legislative action at EU level would have added value in ensuring effective and non-discriminatory access to justice in environmental matters across the EU Member States”

The consultation runs to 23.09.2013.

The history of this is that the Commission some time ago proposed a general directive implementing Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention (concerning access to justice) into Member State legal systems: Commission Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament of Council on Access to Justice in Environmental Matters COM (2003) 624 final.

The proposal never progressed and perhaps this is explained by the radically different views held by the Commission and the Members States concerning procedural matters. The Commission’s view, expressed in the explanatory memorandum accompanying its 2003 proposal, was that in the field of environmental protection uniformity of procedure was more important than autonomy. By contrast, the long-established principle of EU law is that Member States’ legal systems are procedurally autonomous – subject to the conditions of equivalence and effectiveness.

It looks like the Commission now want to re-open this debate...