Vereniging Milieudefensie & Stichting Stop Luchtverontreininging Utrecht v European Commission.
Type of document:
Date of text:
June 14, 2012
European Court of Justice
Seat of court:
A. Dittrich, I. Wiszniewska-Białecka (Rapporteur), I.
The present case concerned the authorisation, by the Commission, of the postponement of a deadline by which a Member State was to comply with certain air quality standards. The applicants had sought an internal review of the Commission acts in question. The basis of those requests for internal review was European Parliament and Council Regulation 1367/2006 on the application of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention to Community institutions and bodies. Commission decided that the requests were inadmissible since they related to matters of general scope, whereas Article 10, in conjunction with Article 2(1)(g), of the Aarhus Regulation provides that such a right of internal review is limited to measures of "...individual scope under environmental law, taken by a Community institution or body and having legally binding and external effects." In the proceedings brought before the General Court, the applicants argued that the Commission had misinterpreted the Aarhus Regulation, or, alternatively and indirectly, that the Aarhus Regulation itself was invalid on the ground that it failed to conform to the Aarhus Convention. The Court then held that Article 9(3) of the Aarhus Convention, concerning access to justice, could not be construed as referring exclusively to measures of individual scope, and that the limitation of the right of review under the Aarhus Regulation was therefore not compatible with the Aarhus Convention. The General Court concluded that the plea of illegality raised by the applicants must be upheld.