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Training package on EU Environmental Assessment Law – Focus on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directives

Module 2: Focus on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Further case-law on EIA (selection)

From the full body of EU environmental law, the EIA Directive has the highest number of ECJ judgments related to its provisions.

In 2013, the European Commission published a collection of ECJ case-law in the field of environmental impact assessment, which was later updated in 2017 to address judgments delivered in the meantime. (More information: In this section, only cases addressing the general principles of the EIA Directive will be looked at, as relevant cases to particular parts of the EIA process and the related provisions were already mentioned in previous sections of the training module.

The ECJ, in one of the first substantial cases concerning the interpretation of the EIA Directive, rules that the wording of the Directive indicates that it has a wide scope and a broad purpose. (More information: C-72/95, Kraaijeveld and Others, paragraphs 31 and 39) Later on, this was further reinforced by other judgments, (More information: C-435/97, WWF and Others, paragraph 40; C-2/07, Abraham and Others, paragraph 32, C-275/09, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest and OthersBrussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest and Others, paragraph 29) thereby anchoring the wide scope and broad purpose of the EIA Directive in the case-law.

The ECJ has also assessed, in a number of cases, the right of individuals to rely on the EIA Directive. To that end, the Court found that if an obligation is imposed on Member States to pursue a particular course of conduct, the effectiveness of the directive would be diminished if individuals were prevented from relying on it in legal proceedings and if national courts were prevented from taking it into consideration on the question of whether the national legislature had kept within the limits of its discretion set by the directive when carrying out its transposition or not. (More information: C-72/95, Kraaijeveld and Others, paragraph 56: C-435/97, WWF and Others, paragraph 69; C-287/98, Linster, paragraph 32, C-201/02, Wells, paragraph 57) When the national court carries out such an assessment, the provisions of the EIA Directive may be taken into account in order to review whether the national legislature has kept within the limits of the discretion set by the directive. (More information: C-287/98, Linster, paragraph 38.)


Developed by the Academy of European Law (ERA)