On 13 January 2015, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) delivered a ruling concerning the direct applicability of the Aarhus Convention into the EU legal order (joined cases C-404/12 P and 405/12 P Council and Commssion v Stichting Natuur en Milieu and Pesticide Action Network Europe).
The Judgment is an appeal brought by the Council and the European Commission against a General Court ruling which annulled two Commission decisions from 2008 with regards to the Aarhus Convention and Regulations (EC) No 149/2008 and No 396/2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed.
By way of background, Article 9 (3) of the Aarhus Convention provides for access to judicial or other review procedures for challenging acts and omissions by private persons and public authorities which contravene provisions of law relating to the environment. Moreover, the obligations for the EU institutions arising under this convention are implemented by Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006.
In 2008, the two Dutch NGOs, Stichting Nature en Milieu and the Pesticide Action Network Europe, active campaigners against the use of chemical pesticides, requested the Commission to internally review Regulation (EC) No 149/2008 as provided by the Aarhus Convention and implementing Regulation 1367/2006. The Commission rejected those requests arguing that Regulation No 149/2008 was not a measure of individual scope and that it could therefore not be considered an ''administrative act'', capable of forming the subject of the internal review procedure provided for under Article 10 of Regulation 1367/2006. As a result, the two foundations brought a case before the General Court seeking the annulment of the Commission decisions.
The General Court ruled in favor of the applicants stating that the EU Courts may examine the validity of a provision of a regulation in the light of an international treaty provided that the nature and the broad logic of the latter do not preclude this and where, in addition, the provisions of the treaty appear, in terms of their content, to be unconditional and sufficiently precise. The Court concluded that the these conditions were satisfied, since on the one hand the NGOs were indirectly questioning the validity of a provision of Regulation No 1367/2006 in the light of the Aarhus Convention and that, on the other hand, that regulation had been adopted to meet the EU's international obligations under Article 9(3) of the Convention. Read more here >