[fyeg_gen-l] Commission welcomes agreement on Directive providing for public participation in environmental decision-making

Natalie Debono ndebono at ba-malta.org
Thu Dec 19 11:40:45 CET 2002

Directive providing for public participation in environmental
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström today welcomed the agreement
between the European Parliament and the Council on a new Directive on public
participation in environmental decision-making. The Directive provides for
public participation in the preparation of environmental plans and
programmes, in the sectors of waste management, air pollution and protection
of water against nitrate pollution, and of projects with significant
environmental impact. The Directive implements a part of the UN-ECE Aarhus
Convention into EU legislation.

Commissioner Wallström commented : "This Directive brings us one step
further in implementing the Aarhus Convention(1). In practice, it will
enable European citizens to take part more effectively in environmental
decision-making which affects them. If the public is aware of environmental
issues, and involved in decisions, then the decisions are likely to be of a
better quality, because relevant information and interests will have been
taken into account. And those decisions are also likely to be better
implemented and respected, because stakeholders will have been involved in
the decision."

Public involvement in environmental decision-making contributes not only to
increased environmental awareness among the public but also to improved
quality of the decisions and, lastly, public support. The new Directive
establishes basic procedures for public participation in important plans and
programmes relating to the environment, in the sectors of waste, air
pollution and protection of water against nitrate pollution. The Directive
also introduces for the first time public participation in the
decision-making on environmentally significant projects. To do so, it amends
the Directives on environmental impact assessment and integrated pollution
prevention and control(2). It also establishes access to justice, giving the
public a possibility to challenge the legality of decisions, acts or
omissions subject to the public participation provisions. Within the
framework of the Directive, Member States will have to establish the
practical arrangements to provide for effective and early participation.

Agreement on the Directive was reached in a single conciliation meeting
between the European Parliament and the Council, and it retains the main
elements of the January 2001 proposal from the Commission(3).

The Union and all its Member States have signed the Aarhus Convention (the
UN/ECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in
Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters), which
entered into force on the 30 October 2001. The Directive adds to the
recently agreed Directive on public access to environmental information. It
will still have to be formally approved, and Member States will have a delay
of two years for its implementation.

(1)Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council providing for
public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and
programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public
participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and

(2)Council Directive 85/887/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain
public and private projects on the environmentCouncil Directive 96/61/EEC
concerning integrated pollution prevention and control

01/118|0|AGED&lg=EN&display=" IP/01/118 of 26 January 2001


Maria Farrugia

EICC Executive


Trade Centre

San Gwann SGN 09


Direct   (356) 2384 3243

General (356) 21 497 560

Fax      (356) 21 441 106

Email    maria.farrugia at eic.metco.net

Website http://eicc.metco.net


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