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Access to the transposition of EU environmental law by Member States: Only if no infringement proceedings initiated

Anaïs Berthier

elni Review 2015, pp. 24-29. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2015.004

Ensuring a better implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law by Member States is one of the well-established commitments of the European Commission. One reason for this is the general consensus about the fact that the non-implementation of environmental law has huge repercussions, not only on the environment itself but on public health as well as the economy. However, Case C-612/13P shows that the way in which the Commission approaches this commitment is in contradiction with its goal.
This article analyses the ruling of the Court of Justice and addresses the legal reasoning behind the refusal from the EU courts to apply the Aarhus Convention to EU institutions. Furthermore, the article elaborates on the concept of investigation under Article 4(2). It also deals with the Regulation 1049/2001 and the limits the Court placed on the presumption of confidentiality established by previous case-law for documents pertaining to administrative files.

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References

  1. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2015, Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 16 July 2015. ClientEarth v European Commission. Appeal — Access to documents of the institutions of the European Union — Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 — Third indent of Article 4(2) — Environmental information — Aarhus Convention — Article 4(1) and (4) — Exception to right of access — Protection of the purpose of investigations — Studies carried out by an undertaking, at the request of the European Commission, concerning the transposition of directives on the environment — Partial refusal of access(Case C-612/13 P).
  2. Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, OJ 2001 L 145/43.
  3. Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, done at Aarhus, Denmark, on 25 June 1998.
  4. United Nations, 2014, The Aarhus Convention: An implementation guide.
  5. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties concluded at Vienna on 23 May 1969.
  6. Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 September 2006 on the application of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters to Community Institutions and bodies, OJ 2006 L 264/13.
  7. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2015, Judgment of the General Court (Fourth Chamber) of 16 April 2015. Carl Schlyter v European Commission. Access to documents — Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 — Article 4(2), third indent — Exception relating to the protection of the purpose of investigations — Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 — Article 6(1) — Detailed opinion of the Commission concerning a draft Order relating to the annual declaration of nanoparticle substances, notified by the French authorities to the Commission in accordance with the provisions of Directive 98/34/EC — Refusal of access (Case T-402/12).
  8. Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty, OJ 2003 L 1/1.
  9. Commission Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 relating to the conduct of proceedings by the Commission pursuant to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, OJ 2004 L 123/18.
  10. Council Regulation No 645/1999 of 22 March 1999, laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 93 TFEU.