The Aarhus Convention was designed to empower citizens to participate in environmental matters at the political level. It has three main pillars - public participation, access to information, and access to justice. Both the EU and Ireland have signed up in principal to its tenets, but in practice, implementation is sporadic and often arbitrary.
UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) perform an enforcement role of sorts, but their decisions are not binding. Instead, they try to encourage parties to the convention to comply at Meeting of the Parties.
In a recent complaint accepted by ACCC, the EU itself was found to be non compliant in relation to its plans for large energy infrastructure projects for Ireland (called PCIs) :
After taking into account the information received, the Committee re-confirmed its earlier determination of preliminary admissibility with respect to the allegations concerning article 7 of the Convention.
Article 7 refers to public participation concerning plans and programmes relating to the environment. There are also allegations of breaches of Article 4, relating to access to information on the environment.
The EU now has till November to respond. Well done to Pat Swords and those involved for getting this far. One of the central tenets of the 2008 Lisbon Treaty was that the EU would :
consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law;
It sure has a lot more work to do..........