environmental rights, European Union, European Commission legal order, rights of environmental activists, Aarhus Convention, uniformity, access to justice
This article attempts to offer a general framework for the protection of environmental rights in the European Union’s legal order. The article discusses the Aarhus Convention, which follows the international trend for procedural protection of environmental rights. The European Commission proposes to give effect to its ‘access to justice’ dimension of the Aarhus Convention in a way that endorses uniformtity as a goal. I argue that this goal is mistaken. The guiding constitutional principle in this area should be that unless there are strong reasons to the contrary, EC law will only supplement the public law of the Member States by providing minimum standards. Under the scheme of environmental rights established by the Aarhus Convention each applicant or environmental activist may have slightly different rights depending on the country where he or she starts their actions or launches their campaigns. The public law of the EC, of which environmental law is now a major part, is not an attempt at harmonization nor is it a simple deduction from the principles of direct effect and supremacy.
(2007) Oxford Legal Studies Research, Working Paper No. 24