National judges play a key-role in the implementation of EU environmental law. The capacity of national courts to guarantee the correct and efficient application of EU environmental law is an essential factor for addressing the legitimate expectations of EU citizens in this domain. The Communication from the Commission - A Europe of Results - Applying Community Law – COM (2007) 502 final) and the Communication on implementing European Community Environmental Law (COM (2008) 773 final) highlighted the crucial role of national courts and national judges.
Environment Directorate-General supports the activities of the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment created in 2004 which consist mainly in exchanging views on the implementation and interpretation of EU legislation and providing training for judges. The conferences of the Forum so far have focused on specific areas of EU legislation, e.g. the implementation of Natura 2000 and waste legislation.
Recognising the need to reinforce the co-operation with the national judges, Environment Directorate-General launched in 2008 a special programme for this purpose. The European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) was contracted to develop training modules on various topics of EU environmental law as well as to organise workshops and seminars on the implementation of EU environmental law. The main purpose of these workshops is to raise awareness of EU environmental law and policy and to provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience. A further objective is to involve the national Judicial Training Centres in order to enhance, in the long term, the benefits of this EU programme. For this purpose, the training materials are developed in a way which allows their rapid up-date and adaptation to the needs at the national level.
The programme is designed in close cooperation with the national judges themselves. Judges’ professional associations like the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment, the Association of the Councils of State and the European Association of Administrative Judges are represented in the programme's Steering Committee and in the Plenary Assembly (see minutes). These consultative bodies contribute to the substance of the training modules as well as to organisational issues.
As of January 2012, training modules on EU Waste Law, EU Nature Protection Law, EU Environmental Impact Assessment Law and EU Water Law were developed.
The available training materials can be found here.
Thirteen seminars were already organized: four seminars dedicated to EU nature law (in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 2009; in Paris, France, February 2010; in London, United Kingdom, March 2010 and in Sanklodiskiu in the Moletai region, Lithuania, September 2010); four seminars on EU waste law (in Sanklodiskiu, in the Moletai region, Lithuania, December 2009; in Berlin, Germany, February 2010; in Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 2010 and in Sofia, Bulgaria, November 2010); three seminars on EU Environmental Impact Assessment Law (Slovakia, March 2011, Poland, April 2011, and Austria, Mai 2011 ) and two seminars on EU Water Law (Sweden, October 2011 and Portugal, November 2011). More than 230 judges and prosecutors from the courts of first instance to the Supreme Courts from 24 Member States participated so far in these seminars.
Development of training modules in other sectors of EU environmental law (e.g. environmental principles, environmental crime) and organisation of respective seminars as well as of train-the-trainers activities are foreseen.
The Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union and the European Commission has jointly organised a Seminar in Brussels on 23 November 2012 on the topic of "Access to Justice and Organisation of Jurisdictions in Environmental Litigation: National Specificities and Influences of European Union Law".
The program, a number of national reports and a synthesis report are available here.
Commissioner Janez Potočnik addressed the audience by delivering a speech on the topic.
A Conference for Italian, Romanian and Slovenian Judges and Prosecutors on "Enforcement of EU Environmental Law: Role of the Judiciary" took place on 10-11 November 2011 in Rome.
A Conference of Spanish and Portuguese Judges and Prosecutors on "Enforcement of EU Environmental Law: Role of the Judiciary" took place on 11-12 November 2010 in Seville (Spain).
A Conference "Le Juge en Europe & le droit communautaire de l'environnement" took place for launching this program under the French Presidency on 9-10 October 2008.