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Legal Standing for NGOs in Environmental Matters under the Aarhus Convention and under Community and National Law

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image of Journal for European Environmental & Planning Law

For some thirty years or more, there have been calls in Germany for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be given legal standing to ensure correct application and enforcement of environmental law1. The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) has long advocated such legal standing for NGOs2, emphasising in particular that the right to bring a representative action in no way constitutes privileged treatment of environmental interests. Rather, it redresses the inequalities of a legal system that places the interests of environment users above those of environment protection3. The representative action has to be seen as a much-needed form of legal standing for public interests that have up to now been unenforceable before the courts. The following article describes the practical experiences with legal standing for NGOs and the relevance of the judiciary, deals with the core elements of the Aarhus Convention, the Directives 2003/4/EC, 2003/35/FC and the proposal for a directive on access to justice in environmental matters and displays the respective comments and recommendations of the Council.

Affiliations: 1: German Advisory Council on the Environment


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