Today Luxembourg court (Grand Chamber) in a final ruling decided that NGO's have no right on access to court and agreed with EU Commission, Council and Czech Republic who started an appeal to a previous decision of the General Court . This is a surprising outcome since the General Court of Luxembourg in 2012 concluded to the opposite, Access to court verdict 2012, and granted NGO's access. The reason for this remarkable change of court's opinion is that they feel that the international Arhus convention granting the right to access to court is not concrete enough.
NGO's therefore cannot challenge Commission decisions such the decision to massively relax the food standards for pesticide residues as PAN Europe did in 2008, as well as challenge the derogation that Commission granted to the Netherlands for meeting air pollution standards as Friends of the Earth-NL did.
The outcome is the more remarkable since Advocate- General Jaakinen in May 8, 2014 released its advice to court and also upheld the right for access to court for NGO's (see same link to Curia) .
PAN Europe feels it is a sad day for democracy in Europe. Industry can go to court already for years and take advantage of this right by doing dozens of cases on pesticides only. Now after EU-institutes did, also Luxembourg court fails to put in place the proper balance and grant NGO's the right to also challenge the implementing work of Commission. Knowing that almost every Commission decision on pesticides includes derogations of the rules, NGO's will not be able to persue their mission in court and protect people and the environment against undermining EU-rules, watering-down of agreed standards and loopholes and backdoors ignoring democratically agreed Regulations.
PAN Europe thinks EU is lagging behind with countries such as the Netherlands granting the right of access to court for many years already.
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For further information please contact:
Hans Muilerman, Tel: +316 55807255, hans [at] pan-europe.info