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Access to Environmental Justice: the Double Standards of the ECJ

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In its findings of 27 June 2016, the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee concluded that European Union “failed to comply with Article 9 paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Convention with regard to access to justice by members of the public, because neither the Aarhus legislation nor the jurisprudence of the ECJ implements or complies with the obligations under these paragraphs”. Against this backdrop, the present contribution retraces the jurisprudence of the ECJ on access to justice in environmental matters, evaluates its compatibility with the Aarhus Convention and compares it with the ECJ’s practice in economic cases, in particular in the area of State aid. It is shown, i. a., that the ECJ denies NGOs access to justice with regard to acts and omissions of EU institutions and how this is in breach with both EU environmental laws and Article 9(3) of the Aarhus Convention. It is also shown that the Court of Justice is much stricter with regard to the admissibility of actions which try to protect the environment than it is with regard to actions, where economic interests are at stake.

Affiliations: 1: Brussels/Madrid


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