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Pan Europe appeal sets off ’historic’ court ruling

Campaign groups, Natuur en Milieu and PAN Europe have won the right to call on the Commission for a review of its decisions. In 2008, these two groups asked the commission in 2008 for a review of newly adopted maximum residue limits for pesticides in food. Their request was denied because it did not meet criteria set out in a 2006 regulation applying the Aarhus convention to EU institutions.

The court ruled that the EU has interpreted parts of the Aarhus convention on environmental justice too narrowly, according to a judgment last week. The EU general court agreed that the NGO request had not met the criteria, but said the criteria themselves were too narrow and not compatible with Aarhus. It annulled the Commission’s decision not to conduct a review. The EU’s rules on Aarhus have already been criticisedby the UN committee that oversees compliance with the convention.

NGOs hope this ruling means that they will be able to challenge EU decisions in future. This option is currently open only to companies. PAN Europe campaigner Hans Muilerman described the ruling as “historic” and Jeremy Wates, secretary general of green group, EEB said it vindicated long-standing concerns “that the EU has failed to provide sufficient opportunities for NGOs to hold EU institutions to account”. EU law now needs to be changed, he said.

For more details see PAN Europe press release and ruling.

Originally posted on 20 June 2012

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