In Austria, the air pollutant emission limits are considerably exceeded for years. The annual limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceed both the allowable annual limit of the national Austrian Ambient Air Quality Act, as well as the EU's limit. The competent national authorities are to take measures to ensure that the limit values are complied with as quickly as possible. In Austria, neither environmental organizations nor citizens, have the right to require the competent national authorities to take measures. However, although Austria has not implemented Art 9 (3) of the Aarhus Convention, environmental organizations must be granted access to justice relating to the right to clean-air. This can clearly be deduced from the Aarhus Convention and the principle of efficiency of Union law. ÖKOBÜRO is now taking legal action and filed an application for clean air with the government of the federal state Salzburg.
The revision of the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) is pending. Experiences with its implementation are controversial – studies commissioned by the European Commission recommend the extension of the Directive in many areas in order to be effective and stringent. The directive needs to be in line with its prior goal, namely the "creation of a common framework for the prevention and remediation of environmental damage at a reasonable cost to society [...]". In many countries - including Austria - the Environmental Liability Directive is only a toothless instrument. In the light of environmental incidents caused by economic activities – harming the ecosystem and consequently also human health - lately predominating in Austria, strengthening the Environmental Liability Directive is therefore essential.
geändert am 11.09.2014