Public participation and enforcement are increasingly viewed as important dimensions of environmental governance. Participatory tools were first introduced in EU environmental law in the context of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive in 1985.

The number of provisions granting citizens and civil society organisations participatory rights in formulating and implementing responses to environmental challenges has expanded considerably since. This has been helped by the implementation of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

Directive 2003/4/EC on access to environmental information and Directive 2003/35/EC on public participation in environmental decision-making were adopted to facilitate access to environmental information held by public authorities and to improve public participation in key administrative processes, such as Environmental Impact Assessment procedures (IPPC). Directive 2004/35/EC on environmental liability introduced administrative enforcement and sanctioning procedures to deal with situations of non compliance with EU legislation on the environment.

IEEP has been closely involved in work relating to access to information, public participation, access to justice, environmental liability and the implementation of the Aarhus Convention.

Key work in this area:

A review of the regulatory context for public participation in the EU and six Member States of carbon capture and storage operations, NEAR CO2.

Research brief on the financial contributions of parties and signatories to the Aarhus Convention to the funding of its work programme for the 2003-07 period. The research brief was presented on the occasion of the Third Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention in Riga (Latvia) on 11 June 2008

IEEP assisted Defra (the UK environment ministry) in 2007 to process the answers from stakeholders arising from its consultation on options for the transposition of the Environmental Liability Directive in the UK.

In 2006-07, IEEP chaired an ad hoc expert group tasked with preparing a draft long-term strategic plan for the Aarhus Convention. The group's draft served as a basis for intergovernmental negotiations which eventually led to the adoption of the Strategic Plan 2009-14 by the Third Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention in Riga (Latvia) in June 2008.

Regarding work in this area please contact:

Marc Pallemaerts
Kristof Geeraerts