This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website
Access to environmental information
EU institutions and bodies must:
Environmental databases or registers must contain:
Requests for information may only be refused in specific circumstances, such as ongoing legal proceedings, or if they might harm the environment by, for instance, revealing breeding sites of rare species.
Public participation in environmental decision-making
EU institutions and bodies must provide early and effective opportunities for the public to participate in decision-making regarding environmental plans or programmes. Where the European Commission prepares a plan or programme to be submitted to other EU bodies for decision, it must provide for public participation at that preparatory stage.
EU institutions and bodies must identify the public likely to be affected by a plan or programme and ensure they are informed of:
A time limit of at least 8 weeks is set for receiving comments, with at least 4 weeks’ notice of any meetings or hearings.
EU institutions and bodies must take due account of the outcome of the public participation and inform the public of any decisions and on what basis they were made, including information on public participation.
Internal review and access to justice
Members of the public, under certain conditions, are entitled to make a request for internal review to the EU institution or body that adopted an administrative act or, in the case of an omission, should have adopted such an act, on the grounds that such an act or omission contravenes environmental law.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) can make a request, if:
A request for internal review may also be made by other members of the public, if they can either:
Requests made by such other members of the public must be submitted either by an environmental NGO meeting the criteria outlined above or by a lawyer authorised to practise in an EU Member State.
Such requests must be made within 6 weeks of the administrative act being adopted, notified or published, whichever is the latest.
EU institutions and bodies must publish all requests for internal review as soon as possible after receipt, as well as all final decisions on those requests as soon as possible after they are adopted.
The EU institution or body must act within 22 weeks of the expiry of the 6-week submission deadline. Where the EU institution or body fails to act on a request for an internal review, or when a request is rejected, the NGO or other members of the public may institute proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
It has applied since 28 June 2007. Certain amended rules, principally on access to justice, have applied since 28 October 2021. The rules allowing other members of the public in addition to environmental NGOs access to internal review will apply as of 29 April 2023.
For further information, see:
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 Union institutions and bodies (OJ L 264, 25.9.2006, pp. 13–19).
Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1367/2006 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC (OJ L 156, 25.6.2003, pp. 17–25).
See consolidated version.
Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC (OJ L 41, 14.2.2003, pp. 26–32).
last update 03.12.2021