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7 May 2008
Marc Clément

Minutes of the First Workshop of the AEAJ Working Group on Environmental Law - Brussel, 14th of March 2008 -

Participants:

AEAJ: Heinrich Zens (AT), Werner Heermann (DE), Giovanni Tulumello (IT), Bernard Even (FR), Barbara Enders (DE), Patrick Stenbäck (FI), Dieter Beck (AT), Anna Berczi (HU), Ryszard Mikosz (PL), Natasa Tzola (EL)

DGENV: Julio Garcia Burgues (Head of Infringement Unit) Marc Clément, Charles Pirotte, Adam Nagy

The meeting started with a presentation by Julio Garcia Burgues on the role of the Infringement Unit in DGENV during which he stressed the need to reinforce the cooperation between the Commission and national courts. Heinrich Zens agreed that cooperation is the core objective of the AEAJ. Werner Heermann then suggested that the AEAJ Working Group on Environmental Law should produce a statement regarding the problem of “access to justice”, by commenting on the study commissioned by DGENV. He also indicated that it would not be possible to hold more than a meeting per year if the costs of travel expenses were to be borne by AEAJ. Marc Clément pointed out that under the French Presidency a Conference launching this process of cooperation with national courts would take place in Paris on the 9th and 10th of October 2008 with Werner Heermann being a member of the Steering Committee. Anna Berczi then asked whether national courts had access to infringement proceedings. Charles Pirotte answered that national judges – following the “Zwartveld” decision of the ECJ – could have access to the documents related to a case in the course of national proceedings (Letter of Formal Notice or Reasoned Opinion). For general information, for instance the list of decisions taken by the Commission, he referred the participants to the Commission`s website:
(http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/infringements/infringements_decisions_en.htm)

Barbara Enders summarised the meeting of the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) Task Force on Access to Justice for the Århus Convention which took place in Geneva from the 10th to the 12th of September 2007 (A written version of this presentation is available).
All the members then contributed to a common feedback on the Milieu Study concerning “Access to justice” in DE, FI, HU, IT, EL, FR, AT, PL. It was agreed upon that the study, in general, satisfied the demands. However, minor (technical) details were not correct. Giovanni Tulumello observed that there was a gap between the law and the reality concernding the issue of access to justice. He argued that the study relied too much on the legal framework and failed to address the rather practical problems, where, for example, a plaintiff refrains from lodging an appeal because he/she has not the money to cover the court fees.

Werner Heermann announced that a statement by AEAJ would be produced before the Conference organized on this topic by DGENV on the 2nd of June 2008. For this purpose Werner Heermann announced that he would send out a questionnaire to all the Working Group Members, which would be the basis for a draft statement. The draft statement should be finished before the end of April, followed by a discussion during the first two weeks in May which then should lead to the adoption of the text in mid-May. The Statement will be sent to DGENV for publication on its website.

The second part of the meeting was dedicated to the discussion of the national case-law prepared by AEAJ members (DE, FI, HU, IT, FR, AT, PL). The cases will be published on the website of the AEAJ.

Finally, Werner Heermann concluded the meeting by thanking all participants and announced that the next meeting of the group would take place in Paris for the Conference from the 9th to the 10th of October 2008.

Annexe 1: Agenda of the workshop in cooperation with European Commission, Directorate General Environment
Venue : Brussels, Avenue de Beaulieu 9
Date: Friday 14th of March 2008
9:00 Welcome by Julio Garcia-Burgues, Head of Unit "Infringments"
9:30 Presentation of DGENV role in implementation of EC environmental law (new Communication from European Commission), ideas about further cooperation with judges by Julio Garcia-Burgues
10:30 Coffe break
11:00 Report of the meeting in Geneva from 10 to 12 September 2007, organized by the United Nations Econonmic Commission for Europe, dealing with Aarhus Convention (Barbara Enders)
11:15 Implementation of Aarhus Convention and Directive 2003/35/EC, standing of non governmental associations (NGO’s)
Statements from all participants on the legal position in their countries (Dieter Beck: Austria; Bernard Even: France; Werner Heermann: Germany; Patrik Stenbäck: Finland; Natasa Tzola: Greece; Anna Bérci: Hungary; Giovanni Tulumello: Italy; Ryszard Mikosz: Poland)
Comments on the Country reports of the „milieu study“, ordered by GD ENV
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Presentation of cases occured in judicial practice concerning access to administrative jurisdiction and density of control in environmental matters (e.g. natura 2000)
From each country a case had to be prepared and distributed among the group members. Presentation of the solution in the country of origin and under the national law of the other countries.
Discussion about different solutions, conclusions.
16:00 Fixing of further activities of the working group. Elaboration of a draft comment on the „milieu study“
17:00 End