Open Letter to MEPs on the European Parliament’s Environment Committee concerning the Aarhus Regulation revision process

Today, YEE sent a letter to MEPs on the European Parliament’s Environment Committee concerning the Aarhus Regulation revision process. The Committee will vote on amendments to the Regulation tomorrow, April 22nd (Earth Day), and we have called on them to ensure that the EU is no longer in breach of its commitments under international law by providing strong access to justice in environmental matters within the EU. It is vital that young people have accountability on EU environmental decisions!

The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) has advised that the Commission’s proposal to bring the EU into compliance with the Aarhus Convention will likely not rectify the situation because it still fails to address long-standing issues. Unless the Parliament addresses this, the EU is on course to repeat the shameful low point in the last Meeting of the Parties (MoP) to the Convention when it prevented the ACCC findings against it from being endorsed – the only time this has ever happened in the Convention’s history.

All of this undermines the EU’s commitment to democracy and accountability, undermines its reputation as a global leader in rule of law and environmental action, and undermines the very future of the Aarhus Convention itself. A stronger Aarhus Regulation will be better for rule of law, democracy, businesses, the environment, as well as young people, and it is also very simply a legal requirement for the EU, and so we have called on MEPs to vote in accordance with this tomorrow.

In our letter, we in particular drew attention to the failure to allow individuals to challenge decisions, which is a major oversight when it comes to access to justice, especially for young people, and is also in breach of the Convention. Additionally, we emphasised the need for state aid decisions to be capable of being brought under review – an issue which is important not just for the future of the planet, but also for business too so that a level economic playing field is maintained and to ensure clear stability for investment.

Altogether, we urged MEPs to listen to those who are experts by reviewing the ACCC’s recent advice, as well as the recommendations from legal and environmental individuals and NGOs, and do their part so that the Aarhus Regulation ensures that:

  1. Access to justice for individuals is provided for
  2. The Commission’s state aid decisions can be challenged
  3. All acts with legal effects can be challenged
  4. All EU administrative measures can be challenged, regardless of whether they entail national implementing measures
  5. A cost protection mechanism is included to make sure that the costs of challenging are not prohibitive

Through our Lights on Aarhus project, we are shedding light on the problems in the Aarhus Regulation and raising youth voices to push for better access to justice. If you want to learn more about Aarhus and concrete ways to get involved in the campaign, sign up for our workshop on Aarhus Advocacy, this Saturday April 24th!


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