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Application of the Aarhus Convention to the EU institutions

The European Union (EU) is applying the provisions of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (the Aarhus Convention) to its own institutions and bodies.


Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 September 2006 on the application of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters to Community institutions and bodies.


The European Union applies the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters to its own institutions and bodies.

Access to environmental information

The institutions and bodies of the Union process all requests for access to environmental information held by them in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001.

Besides providing access to environmental information on request, the institutions and bodies of the Union also collect and disseminate such information.

They organise environmental information in their field of competency and make it systematically accessible to the public, particularly in databases disseminated by computer telecommunications or by other electronic means.

These databases or registers should include:

  • texts of international treaties, conventions or agreements, and of European legislation relating to the environment, and of policies, plans and programmes relating to the environment;
  • steps taken in proceedings for infringements of Community law from the stage of the reasoned opinion;
  • reports on the state of the environment;
  • data derived from the monitoring of activities affecting, or likely to affect, the environment;
  • authorisations with a significant impact on the environment;
  • environmental impact studies and risk assessments concerning environmental elements.

Environmental information made available for public consultation must be up-to-date, accurate and comparable. On request, Union institutions and bodies must inform the public how to access existing information and of methods of analysis, sampling and pre-treatment of samples used in compiling the information.

Where a Union institution or body receives a request for access to environmental information which it does not hold, it must inform the applicant, as promptly as possible, of the institution, body or public authority which holds the information requested. The institution receiving the request may also transfer it directly to the competent authority.

In the event of an imminent threat to human health or the environment, Union institutions and bodies must collaborate with the public authorities and assist them in disseminating without delay to the public all information held by them which could prevent or mitigate harm arising from the threat.

A report on the state of the European environment should be published at least every four years. It should include information on the quality of, and pressures on, the environment.

Public participation in the preparation of environmental plans and programmes

Union institutions and bodies shall provide the public with an opportunity to participate in the preparation of environmental plans and programmes. Due account is taken of the results of public participation in the final decisions.

Access to justice in environmental matters

Qualified entities (associations, groups and organisations concerned with environmental protection and recognised by a Member State) entitled to exercise the right to take legal action if they consider that an administrative act or an omission by a Union institution or body is in breach of environmental law, are entitled to make a request for internal review to the institution or body in question. The request must be submitted in writing no more than six weeks from the adoption of the act. The institution or body must publish a written decision and the reasons for it, no later than twelve weeks later. The decision should describe the measures to be taken in order to conform with environmental law, or indicate that the request has been rejected.

If the qualified entity which made the request considers that the decision of the Union institution or body does not guarantee conformity with environmental law, it may institute proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union. The entity may also take such action if the institution fails to communicate its decision within the specified period.

Qualified entitles are entitled to take legal action without having to demonstrate the impairment of a right or a sufficient interest when they have been recognised and when the subject matter is covered by their statutory activities.


The European Community signed the Aarhus Convention on 25 June 1998 and ratified it on 17 February 2005. All Member States except Ireland are also Parties to the Convention.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006



OJ L 264 of 25.9.2006

Last updated: 20.10.2011
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