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The Aarhus Convention

The EU & the Aarhus Convention: in the EU Member States, in the Community Institutions and Bodies

Access to Information

Final Report (and annexes) of a study on the interaction between the Birds and Habitats Directives and provisions on active dissemination of information found in the Access to Information Directive, 2003/4/EC, and on the management of spatial information found in the INSPIRE Directive, 2007/2/EC.

Public participation

Access to justice

EC commissioned studies

  • In 2018 the Commission contracted an external contractor to prepare a study on the EU’s implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the area of access to justice in environmental matters. It assessed the redress possibilities in environmental matters which are available both directly before the CJEU and via the courts of the Member States. The study evaluated the system of administrative and judicial review, identified any shortcomings, examined options for addressing them and assessed their impact.
    Background to the study is that the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee found that the EU does not comply with the access to justice provisions of the Convention because of insufficient mechanisms to ensure review of EU acts (ACCC/C/2008/32). The findings have not yet been endorsed by a meeting of the parties (MOP).
    The Council as a follow-up adopted on 18 June 2018 Decision (EU) 2018/881[1], based on Article 241 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). It requested the Commission to submit, by 30 September 2019, a study on the Union's options for addressing the findings.

    The following documents are available:

  • In 2012/2013 the Commission contracted professor Jan Darpö, chair of the Aarhus Convention Access to Justice Task Force and a number of re-known national experts in the field to draw up the state of play of implementation by 27 Member States on the implementation of Articles 9 (3) and (4) of the Aarhus Convention. Member States and civil society are welcome to comment on these studies. A synthesis report was also prepared.
  • In 2012 the Commission contracted an expert consultancy group to explore 10 Member States' complaint-handling and mediation mechanisms in the environmental field. Study concluding the remaining Member States is expected in 2013-2014. Member States, stakeholders and civil society are welcome to comment on this study.
  • In 2012 the Commission contracted professor Michael Faure representing the Maastricht University and his group of experts to prepare a study on the possible economic implications of access to justice in environmental matters. Member States, stakeholders and civil society are welcome to comment on this study and its executive summary.
  • Summary brochure on the Conference "The Aarhus Convention: how are its access to justice provisions being implemented?" (Brussels, 2nd June 2008) available here.
  • Inventory of EU Member States' measures on access to justice in environmental matters, Final Reports, September 2007
  • Study on the Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the New Member States and Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, Final Report, August 2004
  • Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, Final Report, 2002
  • The European Ombudsman: any citizen or resident of the EU (or a business, association or other body with a registered office in the Union) can make a complaint to the European Ombudsman. He investigates complaints about maladministration by institutions and bodies of the European Union.
  • Cooperation with judges programme

    • General framework for Judicial training 

    In 2006, the European Commission presented a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on judicial training in the European Union.
    2008 saw the adoption of a Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on the training of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff in the European Union.
    In 2009, the European Parliament published a study on strengthening judicial
    training in the European Union, which is available through the link below.
    The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 provides a legal basis for European judicial training activities. Articles 81 and 82 list "support for the training of the judiciary and judicial staff" as one of the measures required to strengthen judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, and in criminal matters.
    In December 2009, the Council adopted the Stockholm Programme, focusing on issues of European judicial training for all legal professionals.

    • Cooperation with national magistrates in environmental matters
  • Recognising the need to reinforce the co-operation with the national judges, Environment Directorate-General launched in 2008 a special programme for this purpose. Click here for details.

  • E-Justice portal
    On 30 May 2008, the Commission published a communication to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee entitled "Towards a European e-Justice strategy (COM(2008)329). The JHA Council of November 2008 subsequently adopted a "European e-Justice Action Plan". The portal is conceived as a "one-stop (electronic) shop" for information on European justice and access to European judicial procedures.  The European e-Justice portal is to provide, in a consolidated system, a single entry point for all justice relating to questions and online procedures on criminal, civil or administrative law. It is targeted at disparate groups of users such as citizens, lawyers, judges, national authorities and businesses.
    Information on environmental access to justice in different Member States should gradually be included.


Studies prepared by stakeholders

The Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union (ACA) 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". A number of national reports and a synthesis report were prepared that are also available on the ACA website.