ECJ says Commission can be challenged over reviews.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that environmental groups can take the European Commission to court if it refuses their request to review a decision.
The judgment, delivered by the General Court in Luxembourg on 14 June, found that the European Union's Aarhus regulation of 2006 is too restrictive in its interpretation of the United Nations' Aarhus convention, which sets out procedural rights for the public's involvement in environmental decision-making. The EU and all its member states have ratified the convention; Ireland yesterday (20 June) became the last member state to ratify it. The applicants in the case – Stichting Natuur en Milieu, a Dutch environmental group, and the Pesticide Action Network Europe – welcomed the judgment and called on the Commission not to appeal against it. A Commission spokesman said: “The Commission is studying the court judgment very carefully and will then decide whether or not to lodge an appeal.” The Commission has two months and ten days to file an appeal.
The two groups had asked the Commission in 2008 for an internal review of a regulation that set standards for pesticide residues in food. The Commission rejected the request, arguing that the legal nature of the pesticides regulation put it outside the scope of the Aarhus regulation. The ECJ has now ruled that the Aarhus regulation incorrectly implements the convention and that the convention prevails over implementing legislation.
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