Enforcing European Union Environmental Law 2010
Enforcing European Union Environmental Law
Was held on Friday, 26 November 2010
This event is funded by the Communicating Europe Initiative
European Union (EU) environmental law spans a wide range of measures which have had a dramatic impact on national environmental law and policy. There is no doubt that EU initiatives have generated greater awareness of environmental issues and have led to increased levels of environmental protection. At the same time, however, implementation and enforcement of EU obligations continue to pose major challenges for Member States. These challenges include: delivering substantial investment in the necessary infrastructure; adopting high calibre legislation and other transposition measures in a timely manner; training and resourcing competent authorities to implement EU law and policy effectively; and educating the public on the rights conferred by EU law in order to equip it to monitor competent authorities’ performance of their environmental functions and to ensure informed participation.
A number of avenues of redress are available to individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who believe that a Member State has failed to fulfil EU obligations including, judicial review, a complaint to the Commission or a petition to the European Parliament. Depending on the particular context, the Ombudsman or the Commissioner for Environmental Information may offer an alternative remedy. In practice, however, important questions arise as to the accessibility and effectiveness of remedies for breach of EU environmental law. In the specific context of Environmental Impact Assessment, Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control and access to environmental information, EU law sets down mandatory requirements governing ‘access to justice’, including that review procedures must not be ‘prohibitively expensive’. Not surprisingly, this particular obligation has generated sharp controversy as to how it should be transposed at national level. Litigation at both national and EU level has attempted to decipher the meaning of EU ‘access to justice’ obligations but many important questions remain unanswered.
This conference aims to identify contemporary issues in the enforcement of EU environmental law and to foster discussion among participants. The role of the courts as enforcers of EU environmental law is an important overarching theme in the remedies debate. The conference will present a variety of perspectives on the challenges involved in delivering effective enforcement. At a more general level, it seeks to provide accurate, up to date information for participants on issues relating to enforcement.
This event is supported by funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs Communicating Europe Initiative.