The Enforcement of EC Environmental Law, 2007

Pål Wennerås, Oxford University Press 2007, 341 pp., hardback, ISBN 978-0-19-922901-7
The level of enforcement of legal norms is an important factor to measure their effectiveness. This book provides a comprehensive overview of how successful the enforcement of environmental rules in the EU Member States has been. The fundamentally distinctive nature of EC environmental law from other Community fields is analysed and challenged. The book tests whether the specific features of environmental legislation create a serious obstacle for its effective enforcement.
In order to do so, a detailed history of litigation is presented by the book and the evolution of environmental rules is observed within the scope of existing case law. The author examines in detail the application of environmental legal texts in terms of access to court – in particular how individual rights are conferred on plaintiffs on the special field of environmental claims – and the effectiveness of judicial enforcement. In light of the ratification of the Aarhus convention, focus is given to private litigation, mostly before national courts but also with regard to cases handled by Community courts. For a comprehensive view, legal actions of the European Commission as well as experience gained though preliminary reference procedures are taken into account.
On the basis of this analysis, the book shows that environmental plaintiffs have formally access to the same judicial mechanisms than other sectors and provides recommendations to overcome the enforcement deficiencies occurring in the practice. It suggests for instance a more widespread use of regulations as opposed to directives, a clearer and broader definition of individual rights or to address related time and money issues. In the authors’ opinion a combination of a more enforceable EC legislation and a stronger commitment by the people affected to make better use of the available legal tools could lead to significant progress.