Progressive environmental laws in jeopardy as Commission panders to deregulation agenda

The European Environmental Bureau expressed its dismay at the European Commission’s announcement today of its intention to consider withdrawing the proposals for legal instruments on soil and access to justice under the REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme). This will be music to the ears of proponents of EU deregulation but could spell bad news for the environment.

Currently soil across the EU is threatened by eutrophication and erosion which in turn threatens our food security. Action is urgently needed to curb this, a fact which the Commission had recognised, but is now choosing to regress on.

Jeremy Wates, EEB Secretary General said “Just days ago, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of the risks that climate change will pose to the environment and food security. Yet President Barroso seems not to have heeded this warning and instead raises the prospect of withdrawing the soil directive – a directive which could protect what fertile soils we have left – and this under the pretext of making European laws ‘leaner’ for business.”

Access to Justice is also identified as legislation the Commission ‘considers for repeal or will not take forward’ but it is also indicated that the Commission is working on an alternative proposal. The targeting of access to justice is particularly bizarre coming barely a week after the Commission’s public consultation on this topic closed and before the results have come out.

“Withdrawing the 2003 proposal for a directive on access to justice can only be justified if the Commission comes forward with a new proposal for an access to justice directive in the coming months. The Commission’s own extensive surveys, as well as the judgments of the European Court of Justice and the findings of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, clearly demonstrate that there is a political and legal vacuum in this field which urgently needs to be filled by a directive if the rights of European citizens are to be respected.”

Commission Communication – click here.