Euroopan parlamentti ja Euroopan neuvosto pääsivät tiistai-iltana sopuun Korholan raportista Århusin sopimuksen soveltamisesta EU-instituutioita koskien. Sekä parlamentti, neuvosto että komissio ovat lopputulokseen tyytyväisiä.
Ohessa englanninkielinen tiedote, suomenkielinen taas tässä.
Parliament and Council reached yesterday (2 May) a conciliation agreement on a Regulation for the full application of the three pillars of the Aarhus Convention access to information, public participation, access to justice- to the Community institutions and bodies.
The final text is a very satisfactory and well balanced compromise, acceptable to all three institutions. The agreement reached was unanimously endorsed by the EP Delegation with 16 votes in favour.
The main points of the final agreement can be summarised as follows:
The amendments regarding access to environmental information, particularly concerning the exceptions, proved the most difficult to solve. The agreement reached is based on the regime of exceptions of the general Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents held by the EC institutions, which has always been regarded by the EP as a big success (report Cashman). This solution ensures a coherent and realistic approach since there will be one single regime for all kind of information.
Moreover, on Parliaments insistence the provisions regarding access to information related to emissions into the environment have been strengthened and the relevant exceptions have been made more restrictive (they concern now court proceedings, legal advise and investigations, whereas before they also concerned inspections and audits). Also the interpretation of such exceptions must be made in a restrictive way.
Furthermore, following an EP compromise proposal it was agreed that the information made available on registers and databases of the Community institutions shall also include steps taken in proceedings for infringement of Community law, which is a completely new addition to the Council common position.
With regard to public participation the compromise reached with the Council secures the involvement of the public also to banking plans and programmes, which mainly concerns the European Investment Bank. In exchange Parliament agreed to withdraw its amendment regarding plans and programmes funded by a Community institution or body, considering that the public participation to plans and programmes prepared and adopted by the Community institutions and bodies already provides for sufficient and satisfactory public involvement.
Moreover, it was agreed that when taking a decision on an environmental plan or programme the relevant Community institution and body shall inform (and not just make reasonable efforts to inform) the public about this decision. A reference to public participation regarding policies along the lines of the Aarhus Convention has also been included.
On the issue of access to justice Parliament succeeded in extending the deadline for NGOs to request the internal review of an administrative environmental act from 4 to 6 weeks. On sustainable development the EP Delegation thought that a reference in the recitals was sufficient given that this is a very broad term covering activities not directly related to the protection of the environment (globalisation, employment). The primary objective of this Regulation though is to secure access to justice for environmental and not for all kind of NGOs. Parliament also secured a reference in the recitals to accountable NGOs, which very much lay in the heart of our rapporteur.
Finally with a view to reaching an overall compromise it was agreed that Community institutions and bodies shall apply the requirements of the Regulation nine months after its entry into force (it enters into force three days after its publication in the EU Official Journal).
Discussion and adoption in the EP Plenary is most likely scheduled for July.