National report on the implementation of the Aarhus Convention: Civil society sees considerable gaps in access to justice
Austria has, since 2005, been a Party to the Aarhus Convention. Since then, Austria is requested to submit every three years a report on the implementation of the Convention. The National Implementation Report 2013 has been based on a two-stage consultation process, to which the public, NGOs, concerned ministries and interest groups could participate. Concerning the implementation of the Aarhus Convention ÖKOBÜRO criticized in particular that, except for EIA and IPPC procedures, access to justice for environmental organisations as such has not been implemented. Furthermore, responses to requests for environmental information take too long and public participation in decisions on specific activities and concerning plans, programmes and policies relating to the environment is usually neither early nor effective.
The transfer, free of charge, of natural heritage land to environmental organisations constitutes State aid
In a recent judgment the General Court of the European Union confirmed the European Commission’s decision that environmental protection measures in Germany constitute State aid. Aid granted by a member state is incompatible with the common market of the European Union, insofar as it distorts competition and it affects trade between Member States. Making land, which may be exploited commercially, available free of charge favours environmental organisations over other undertakings active in the sectors concerned. No matter how legitimate the interests of nature protection are, these measures constitute State aid and are to be approved by the Commission.
geändert am 30.09.2013