The green deal, a strategy programme by the European Commission, intends to “green” the EU activities and re-orient policies and laws for the years to come, in areas such as climate and energy, agriculture and fisheries, products and services, and trade and foreign policy, the most important announcement being the adoption of an EU climate law which will ensure EU climate neutrality by 2050. This contribution tries to place the different elements of the green deal strategy into their environmental context and also to assess the probability that the proposed measures will be agreed by the European Parliament and by the Council (the Member States’ governments).
This paper passes in review the different pieces of legislation and court judgments which were issued until now as regards rights of nature, and critically comments on their impact. In a first section, the legislation, including the constitutional texts of some countries, will be presented. In a second section, the implementation of the different measures will be discussed, also with a view, whether the EU could learn from the trend to give natural assets rights of their own. Short concluding remarks will end the contribution.
This article discusses some data concerning the environmental jurisdiction of the EC Court of Justice during 2006 and 2007, and compares them with previous years. During this time, the Court—including the Court of First Instance—issued about one decision per week. The majority of cases concerned nature conservation issues, followed by waste and air-climate change matters. About two thirds of all cases were submitted to the Court by the European Commission. Preliminary cases (Article 234 EC Treaty) took, on average, a time of 19 months, cases under Article 230 21 months, and cases under Article 226 EC Treaty 18 months. However, if one includes in the cases under Article 226 the compulsory pre-judicial period, the average duration of procedures was 47 months, thus almost four years. A closer analysis of the data reveals that this long duration is mainly attributable to the EC Commission.
The European Commission which has a large discretion to decide which infringements of EC environmental law it will pursue, has recently published communications which announce that it will concentrate on the transposition of EC legislation into the law of the Member States. This omits to structurally address the practical application of environmental legislation. Strong environmental groups which could contribute to the effective application of EC environmental law, lack; this feature makes the environmental sector different from most other economic or social sectors, where strong interests—professional bodies, trade unions, competitors, trade and industry associations, farmers' associations—promote the defense of their respective interests. All the more is the environment dependent on the commitment of the civil society to preserve and protect it. The contribution examines the instrument of the environmental complaint in EU law and criticizes the Commission's attempt to stop using the complaint system as a tool to assess practical application of EC environmental law in the Member States, though it is almost the only one existing.
Discussions on climate change legislation concentrate on measures relating to the emission of greenhouse gases. The present contribution tries to have a look at the impact of water availability within the European Union and to examine the need for EU legislation in this area, starting from the fact that the EU has, until now, not considered water availability to be a topic which deserves specific attention by the Union. The articles points at the serious impact which water scarcity is likely to have in particular, though not exclusively, in Southern European countries and passes in review a number of possible options for EU wide legislation.