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The Commission: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

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On Infringement Proceedings as a Legal Device for the Enforcement of EU Law on the Environment, Using Swedish Wolf Management as an Example

image of Journal for European Environmental & Planning Law

This article centres on the effectiveness of Article 258 TFEU proceedings for the enforcement of EU environmental law. Employing as an example the case between the Commission and Sweden on the licensed hunting of wolves – a species enjoying strict protection in accordance with the Habitats Directive – the pros and cons will be discussed of infringement proceedings for the enforcement of the common responsibilities in the environmental area. While these proceedings can be effective in situations where they are used, they suffer unpredictability and a lack of consistency owing to political balancing within the Commission. Furthermore, lack of transparency in communication between the Commission and the governments of the Member States prevent public scrutiny of the system, which contributes to alienation of the EU from the public. Finally, on areas of environmental law – which are highly dependent upon scientific expert knowledge and thus dominated by ‘soft guidelines’ – infringement proceedings are an important complement to references from national courts to CJEU for preliminary rulings on controversial issues in order to avoid ‘circular decision-making’. Thus, the Swedish wolf issue can serve as a background for a more general discussion on infringement proceedings as an effective means for the enforcement of environmental law within the Union.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, Uppsala Universitet


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