Komission kysely ympäristöasioiden valitusoikeuden muutosten tiekartasta
EU:n Green Dealissa on mainuttu mahdollisuus parantaa ympäristöasioiden muutoksenhakuoikeutta EU:ssa. Kannatimme komission kyselyssä sekä EU-asetuksen muutosta että uuden muutoksenhakua koskevan direktiivin tekemistä. Niistä tarvitaan toki kuulemiset.
2.4.2020 Komission verkkolomakkeelle täytetty vastaus:
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation is the oldest and biggest environmental NGO in Finland. We have always been a strong advocate for the Aarhus Convention and so-called third pillar rights both in Finland and in the EU. Within the Finnish legal system, access to justice has long traditions even in our earlier and current Constitution. For the protection of the environment in an European context, access to justice is one of the key elements of democratic decision making. According to our Finnish experience, access to justice gives more power also to public participation. It can help in preventing environmental problems beforehand, too.
Continuously improving access to justice is a vital element in ensuring de facto implementation of the right to access to justice. Therefore we highly welcome the initiative of the Commission to make amendments to the Aarhus Regulation. As an environmental organization, we see that for example longer deadlines are needed in environmental cases: there is usually big amount of documents and need to consult many specialists etc.
In addition, access to justice varies greatly within the Member States resulting currently in unequal access to justice in the EU. While taking into account the sovereignty of national judicial systems, the Aarhus Convention and amendments to it are a vital tool in balancing this gap in access to justice. In addition, we need also new Access to Justice Directive to make effectively binding minimum criteria for the whole EU.
Expertise in environmental matters within judicial systems of the Member States is vital in ensuring access to justice. Justice in environmental matters requires the knowledge of legal questions relating to values of nature. Special courts in environmental issues, such as the Vaasa Administrative Court in Finland, can be seen as best practices for the whole EU.
Acts of general scope, instead of only acts of individual scope, should be included in the Regulation. In order to ensure broad access to justice, it is vital to safeguard that costs relating to judicial proceedings do not act as a de facto barrier to access to justice for environmental organisations.
The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation firmly believes amending the Aarhus Regulation to broaden its scope is one important way of ensuring compliance with the Aarhus Convention. The new Access of Justice Directive is needed, too. It is important to arrange public hearings about these proposals.
Our statement was prepared by environmental lawyer Maria Westerman working in our Uusimaa (capitol) region office and senior advisor Tapani Veistola working both for the Headquarters and Uusimaa region office.
Erityisasiantuntija Tapani Veistola
- +358 400 615 530