Agius vows to act on NGOs’ access to law courts after Brussels opens infringement

EC says that in Malta, members of the public, such as environmental NGOs, have a limited right to access courts on policies dealing with nature, waste management and water policy

PN candidate Peter Agius
PN candidate Peter Agius

PN candidate for Europe Peter Agius has said he will empower NGOs to have full legal recourse on challenges to government environmental policy, following an infringement notice commenced by the European Commission against Malta.

The Commission decided to open infringement procedures by sending letters of formal notice to Malta for filing to fully implement the requirements of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (Aarhus Convention).

National laws must be clear and precise regarding the possibility of challenging environmental acts before the courts. A very important element is to ensure that citizens and civil society can ask the national courts to verify legal compliance.

In the case of Malta, members of the public, such as environmental NGOs, have a limited right to access courts in three identified policy areas: nature, waste management and water policy.

Malta now has two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue reasoned opinions.

“The current government is not only spoiling our environment on all fronts but is also making sure that we cannot sue him for it,” Agius said.

“One of my priorities as MEP candidate announced on 15 March is to empower local actors to secure implementation of EU standards in Malta. Government must come clean and provide the legal instruments for citizens and civil society to challenge authorities non implementation of EU standards.

This would open up new avenues for us to fight for our rights to a clean environment, free from sewage in the sea leading to infections and cleaner air with current particulate matter levels leading to the highest rates of respiratory conditions.”


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