In yesterday’s open ended trilogue, the European Parliament and European Council reached an agreement on the amendment of the Aarhus Regulation. They have taken a step forward in allowing acts with national implementing measures to be challenged. However, the exemption of state aid and the long list of criteria for individuals to access courts remain important barriers for environmental justice in the EU.
Unfortunately, the deal between the Parliament and the Council is still not in line with the advice given by the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee and the EU would therefore remain in breach of international law. Especially, excluding state aid decisions from its scope is an important reason for concern. Taking into account the role of public funding in accelerating the just and green transition, it is of utmost importance to use the court’s jurisdiction to hold Member States accountable if they fail to use their budgets for implementing the objectives of the European Green Deal. As shown in many examples, these state aid decisions can be harmful to the environment and citizens should be allowed to challenge them.
Commenting on the recently finalised trilogues, CAN Europe governance policy officer, Harriet Mackaill-Hill said: “The revision of the Aarhus Regulation had to achieve two objectives to bring the EU into compliance with international law: broadening the scope of acts that can be challenged in front of the Court and granting access to justice to citizens and NGOs.
The glass is now half full – we expected and needed more. While we warmly welcome the inclusion of acts with implementing measures, we are wary about the massive loophole created by leaving state aid decisions out of scope. On top of this loophole, the long list of quasi impossible criteria for individuals to fulfill, impedes the delivery of much needed environmental justice in the EU.”
Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Project Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org