15 climate and environment organizations wrote to the European executive, demanding an application of the Aarhus Convention of which the EU is a signatory. The Aarhus Convention guarantees citizens the right to challenge environmental decisions by regulators.
On March 17, an UN panel had already issued a ruling that accused the EU of failing to observe the Convention.
The letter in question, written by environmental lawyers Client Earth and signed by NGOs such as Greenpeace, Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth and WWF, calls on the EU to change its laws in order to help individuals and groups to take decisions to EU courts.
It criticizes: "No NGO or individual has ever been granted legal standing before the Court of Justice of the EU to challenge decisions taken by EU institutions, agencies or bodies, except in relation to refusals to disclose documents". It continues "We call upon you to seize this opportunity to increase the legitimacy of the EU institutions by closing the gap between decision-makers and citizens", and points out: "Failure to do so simply because the EU is the subject of the findings would [...] send a stark message to its citizens [...] that the EU has a highly selective approach when it comes to the rule of law."
The NGOs that support the letter hope to exercice pressure on the EU executive ahead of a meeting of signatories to the Aarhus Convention in September that will be attended by the EU.