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Quality and Speed of Administrative Decision-Making Proceedings: Tension or Balance?

Chris W. Backes and Sander Jansen

elni Review 2010, Issue 1,  pp. 23-29.

Procedures to receive a permission concerning environmental issues and procedures to receive a permit for building plants, highways, airports and so on often take long and not seldom very long. The administrative proceedings involved are very often complex. In several countries, there is an increasing desire to speed up administrative decision-making proceedings, especially in the field of complex infrastructure projects. The current economic crisis enhanced this necessity. Both developments, the incumbent economic crisis and the dissatisfaction with the current system of decision-making, resulted in planned or taken measures. With regard to these planned or implemented (legislative) measures, a possible clash may occur between, on the one hand, speedier decision-making and, on the other, the quality of the proceedings and the rights of the citizens.
In the course of the summer of 2009, the administrative law department of Maastricht University carried out a comparative law research on this issue. The research involved an exploration of the ways in which issues relating to complex decision-making procedures are dealt with in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands and the experiences after certain acceleration measures have been implemented. Besides analysing the relevant statutes, case law and legal writings, the researchers interviewed stakeholders who are engaged in the decision making process in practice, like civil servants, judges, advocates and representatives of environmental groups. This article is based on a selection of findings of that research.

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