The European Parliament gives Europeans a greater say in environmental policy. Current procedures are not in line with the Aarhus Convention, the international participation rules that the EU signed more than 15 years ago.
The convention deals with the right to information about environmental matters, the right to be involved in environmental decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.
However, the EU did not comply with the treaty on several points. Individuals cannot yet go to the European institutions to obtain information or to challenge decisions. Due to these new rules, this is possible in many more cases, albeit under certain conditions
GroenLinks MEP Bas Eickhout said that the European Greens have been pushing for this amendment of the treaty for years. “Although the new legislation is not perfect, it is an important step. This is important not only because the environment concerns us all, but also because it is very important for confidence in the European institutions,” said Eickhout.
Negotiations on the amendments to the law were difficult because the ministers and the European Commission struggled a lot. Eickhout: "The Commission is afraid that public participation will result in more administrative work and the governments have difficulty with more transparency.."
The signatories of the Aarhus Convention will meet on October 18, before which time the Council of Ministers is also expected to approve the amended legislation. The new rules will probably come into effect this year, although citizens will then have to wait another year and a half before they can claim the improved access.