A European Union court’s sentence has annulled a Commission decision rejecting two environmental groups’ request for an internal review of a pesticide regulation specifying maximum residue levels of pesticides for certain food and feed products.
The General Court’s decision called into question the narrow wording of the regulation that obliges the EU’s institutions to protect the rights of civil society to participate in environmental decision-making.
The plaintiffs in the case – Stichting Natuur en Milieu, a Dutch environmental foundation, and Pesticide Action Network Europe, a group that campaigns against the use of chemical pesticides – welcomed the outcome. François Veillerette, who heads the Pesticide Action Network, urged the commission to accept the decision and not appeal it to the European Court of Justice.
Jeremy Wates of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a Brussels campaign group, said the ruling “vindicates longstanding concerns in the NGO community that the EU has failed to provide sufficient opportunities for NGOs to hold EU institutions to account.”
When the two environmental groups asked the Commission to review the pesticide regulation, they based that request on the Aarhus Regulation. The latter applies to EU institutions the protections provided by the United Nations’ Aarhus Convention on access to information.
That convention was introduced to supplement substantive environmental protections with procedural rights to enforce violations of those standards and it was approved on behalf of the European Union by a Council decision in February 2005.