ClientEarth and EEB joint letter to EU environment ministers on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Aarhus Convention

This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Aarhus Convention, the UN’s flagship treaty promoting access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. The EU, having been a major driving force behind the creation of the Convention, should be at the centre of celebrating the Convention’s success in promoting environmental democracy in a wide range of countries from throughout Europe and Central Asia.
Unfortunately the EU’s own commitment to the Convention, and to the participatory democracy which it promotes, was seriously called into question in September last year when the EU opposed the endorsement by the Meeting of the Parties (MoP) of a finding by the Convention’s independent Compliance Committee that the EU itself was in non-compliance due to the insufficient possibilities for the public to have access to justice at the level of the EU institutions. The EU position prevented the MoP, for the first time in the history of the Convention, from endorsing a finding of non-compliance by the Committee, thereby undermining the compliance mechanism and the Convention itself. The EU was fortunately completely isolated in its position but the resulting stalemate led to the issue being postponed to the next time the MoP convenes in 2021 – see further details in the annex.
We are writing now to express our concern that seven months later, and despite a general commitment by the EU to explore ways and means to comply with the Convention, we see no signs that the EU is taking serious steps to address the problem at the root of the non-compliance. Given the Commission’s apparent unwillingness to move forward on the issue, the role of Member States will be crucial.

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Published April 10, 2018
Found in Environmental Democracy