The European Commission published Roadmap/Inception Impact Assessment Ares(2018)2432060 "EU implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the area of access to justice in environmental matters" which is open for feedback. The objective of the initiative is to enable the EU to fulfil its commitment made at the Budva MOP of the Aarhus Convention to continue to explore ways and means of compliance.
Given the complex nature of the issues at stake, it is important to examine how the Convention is currently applied in the EU with regard to legal challenges to EU acts. This assessment should build on an accurate understanding of how access to justice works, both via Member States' courts (through the preliminary reference mechanism) and via direct challenges at EU level. Furthermore, the assessment should include the legal, institutional, administrative aspects, including consequences and costs on EU institutions and the EU courts, as well as social, economic and environmental implications of possible ways forward. Based on this knowledge, different alternatives will be defined and analysed and possible consequences outlined.
The problem described above is limited in scope, namely compliance with an international agreement on a procedural matter (the administrative or judicial review of certain categories of EU acts). Hence, the assessment will rest upon a mapping of all available administrative and judicial means of redress against EU acts (initiated in national courts or initiated at EU level) and of the categories of natural and legal persons having access to them. This exercise is meant to identify possible gaps and, where these are identified, to examine comparatively the possible options for addressing them in the light of these options' legal and institutional impacts. The examination – meant to enable the Commission to decide on how best to move forward – should include forecasts of the number, areas and frequencies of requests for review and actions brought to the EU institutions and to the General Court. It will also assess, in a proportionate manner, the economic, social and environmental impacts of the options.