Combining lectures, seminars and study visits, the Summer School aimed at covering the decision-making process within the three pillars of the EU. Specialists in the field of environmental regulation, monetary union, foreign policy, migration and defence formed the core of lectures and seminars. They were assisted by academia and high-level European civil servants to cover broader aspects of the European structure and decision-making process.
IES Senior Researchers Giovanna Bono, Richard Lewis and Marc Pallemaerts were all involved in preparing and giving lectures and workshops, assisted by IES researchers Ruben Lombaert, Aaron McLoughlin and Rhiannon Williams. IES-PILC professor Dirk Arts joined Dr. Dirk Van Nuffel on explaining European legal issues, while other speakers such as Belgium’s former Environment Minister and former MEP Magda Aelvoet gave lectures at one of the Brussels-based EU Institutions.
On the organisational side, the impossible was done by IES Secretary Nele Fasseel to get the Summer school prepared and to get all students, lecturers and staff in the right place at the right time. Her thorough organisation led to a very positive feedback from the students (see chart).
The three organising institutions are looking at organising a second joint Summer School for September 2005. Information on this will be available on the IES website.
Conference in Pittsburgh on Judicial Cooperation and Private International Law
The conference was partly funded through support from the delegation of the European Commission in Washington. Recently, there have been lots of efforts in Europe towards the creation of a common judicial area and the unification or approximation of the laws and procedures in civil and commercial matters. These initiatives have been successful within the European Union. Not as much attention has been devoted to the relations with third states, and to how this new body of civil and procedural rules impacts the traditional ways in which the cooperation is sought in the international arena.
The Conference was built to address those issues in the spirit of transatlantic dialogue. During the first day of the Conference, the major issues relating to private international law and judicial cooperation were addressed in a systematic way by leading experts in the field, who provided alternatively the American and European views on the subjects, and suggested ways to build bridges and consensus between the two conteinents. Those sessions were follewed by another round of discussion on Saturday which focused on how the US and EU can best coordinate future development of private law and judicial cooperation.
The Conference was attended, on behalf of the Institute, by IES President Bart De Schutter and PILC lecturer Arnaud Nuyts. Arnaud delivered a paper on the comparison between the European and American approaches towards judicial jurisdiction. He also chaired part of the Saturday session which focused on how the institutional actors, represented at the Conference by officials of the EU Commission and Councils and of the US State Department, see how the cooperation in this field could be improved in the future.
IES Hosts Researcher
From July to September, the IES hosted Italian researcher Elisa Turco who worked on her MA-thesis on “European Policies for transport, in particular the new Proposal Directive on the Access Market for Port Authorities”; She worked under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Erik Franckx and IES-researcher Koen Van den Bossche.
IES Publication Series Expands with book on EU
“De Nieuwe Europese Unie” can be ordered from VUBPress (www.vubpress.be) and costs € 25. More information (incl. table of contents) can be obtained via the website of the IES.
IES Organizes Lecture Series on Sustainable Development: Internal and External Dimensions
In June 2001, the Göteborg European Council, noting that sustainable development “is a fundamental objective under the Treaties” which “requires dealing with economic, social and environmental policies in a mutually reinforcing way”, agreed an EU strategy for sustainable development which “adds a third, environmental dimension to the Lisbon strategy” for economic and social renewal. The EU Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) aims to achieve a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. Its basic aim is to ensure that economic growth, environmental quality and social inclusion go hand in hand, thereby increasing citizens’ welfare. It identifies six priority issues which pose severe or potentially irreversible threats to our well-being and a number of objectives and policy measures to help address these issues at the EU level. The six priority areas for action are: climate change, public health, poverty and social exclusion, ageing society, management of natural resources, and mobility and transport. To improve policy coordination with and within the Member States, the Göteborg European Council also invited Member States to draw up their own national sustainable development strategies.
Three years after the adoption of the SDS, the European Commission recently launched a public consultation which will lead to a comprehensive review of the strategy at the start of the new Commission’s term of office, as mandated in 2001. This review will include an assessment of progress made since 2001 and a roadmap for further action. The consultation is open for contributions from stakeholders, experts and the public at large until 31 October 2004. The results of this consultation will serve as input to the Commission’s review of the SDS, which is expected to be completed by January 2005 for adoption at the following Spring European Council.
Apart from contributing to the public debate, the organisers’ objective is also to provide policy advisors, interested professionals and students with up-to-date information on the European policy process towards a more sustainable society.
Lewis @ Metropolis
Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis attended the migration top-International Metropolis Conference that took place at the University of Geneva during the last week of September. He took part in 3 of the 90 workshops, the plenary panel sessions and the International Steering Committee meeting of the Metropolis project at the end of the week. This was the first time that Richard attended as a representative of the IES. He has been to five of the other conferences as an official of the European Commission, and spoke in two of the plenary sessions in the past.
Metropolis started life as a purely Canadian project
to bring together practitioners, academics, civil servants and non -governmental
organisations in the field of migration studies. The Citizenship and
Immigration Department of the Canadian government felt that Canada,
as a country built on immigration, had a unique role to play in bringing
together people who are knowledgeable in a field that is highly complex
and spills over into many other areas of academia and government. The
Geneva conference was the ninth in the series – others have been
held in places as far apart as Vancouver and Israel- and brought together
600 people. The Canadians – ever optimistic as befits their young
society - say that this number should top 1000 at next year’s
conference in Toronto. With this kind of line-up the International Metropolis
Conference is the place to see and be seen and learn about the latest
research in the field.
Two workshops particularly deserve a mention in the IES context. These where “Rethinking the Science – Policy Link in the Field of Migration” and “The Impact of EU Accession”. Both involved lively discussion on the policy/research nexus. With regard to the impact of accession and the fear that large numbers of migrants would “invade” the old fifteen Member States, most research confirms the experience of previous enlargements that the impact is minimal. However, most of the researchers taking part felt that it was too early to give a definitive answer to some of the issues raised.
Of the plenary panel discussions, two might be singled out. One concerned the policy options for the fight against discrimination and the other whether amnesties for illegal migrants, or regularization programmes as they are generally known, work in the way that they are intended. In the case of regularization, the debate ranged around whether such programmes assist the social inclusion of migrants or whether they attract illegal migrants in anticipation of being allowed to remain on the territory of the EU.
IES News in Brief
Under the auspices of Senior Research Fellow Marc Pallemaerts, Dr. Dirk Merckx has advised the Federal Ministry of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment in preparation of an EU workshop on “Illegal logging and measures to combat money laundering”.
IES Senior Research Fellow Giovanna Bono acted as co-editor of a special issue of the journal “International Peacekeeping”, devoted to “The EU, crisis management and peace support operations” (Autumn 2004, Vol. 11, no.3). She further wrote. “La PESC et la PESDC dans la Constitution européenne: évaluation sur la base du projet de la Convention” as an article in the Annuaire français de relations internationals, Bruylant, Paris, 2004.
On 16 September, the IES was subject to a first (scheduled) international audit. More about this as soon as the audit report is available.
Attention ex-PILC students
The IES wishes to use this Newsletter to stay in touch with former PILC students. PILC Alumni (or APILCA) can keep us informed of their projects and whereabouts, and may wish to use this medium to stay in touch with former colleagues and friends. Contributions for publication can be sent to the IES secretariat (email@example.com).
What exactly is the so-called “Aarhus package” and what is the significance of the Aarhus Convention which the term refers to? Why does the EC want to become a party to that convention before May of next year?
The Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Particpation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was negotiated within the framework of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and signed by 35 of its member states and by the European Community at the “Environment for Europe” ministerial conference in Aarhus on 25 June 1998. It entered into force on 30 October 2001, following ratification by 16 states. The Convention now has 29 contracting parties, most of them countries in transition from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the Caucasus. It represents the most comprehensive and ambitious effort to establish international legal standards in the field of environmental rights to date.
The United States and Canada, though full members of ECE, elected not to participate in the negotiations and have stayed outside the Aarhus regime since its inception. Russia, though it did participate in the negotiations, eventually refrained from signing the instrument. Ironically, the EU and its member states, which like to position themselves as champions of environmental democracy in global fora, constituted a small minority of the contracting parties to the Aarhus Convention until the recent enlargement of the EU on 1 May 2004. It is only thanks to its new member states, most of which had already ratified the Convention prior to their accession to the EU, that little more than half the Union’s member states are now contracting parties. A proposal for an EU Council decision that would enable the European Community itself to become a contracting party is currently under consideration by Council and Parliament (COM(2003) 625 final).
By undertaking to guarantee a series of “citizens’ rights in relation to the environment”, of a procedural nature, the European states signatory to the Convention wished to encourage what they described in the ministerial declaration of the Aarhus Conference, by which the Convention was adopted, as “responsible environmental citizenship”, acknowledging that “an engaged, critically aware public is essential to a healthy democracy”. The full engagement of civil society in the environmental policy-making process with a view to increasing its democratic nature and legitimacy is clearly perceived as the main purpose of the Convention. The Aarhus ministerial declaration praised it as “a significant step forward both for the environment and for democracy”.
In practical terms, the Aarhus Convention requires its contracting parties, in response to requests from any member of the public, and without the latter having to state any particular interest, to make available information on the environment held by public authorities, subject to a limited number of exemptions that may be invoked on grounds of public interest. The Parties must also take steps to collect and disseminate a whole range of information on the condition of the environment and activities and measures likely to affect it. The provisions on public participation in decision-making processes require the Parties to implement procedures enabling members of the public to obtain information and to assert their interests where public authorities are considering whether to permit specific activities that may have a significant impact on the environment.
Measures must also be taken to enable the public to participate in the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the environment, and in the preparation by public authorities of regulations and other generally applicable, legally binding rules that may have a significant impact on the environment. Lastly, the Convention guarantees access to review procedures in the event that public authorities fail to comply with their obligations in respect of access to information and participation in the decision-making process. The public must also have access to administrative and judicial procedures to be able to challenge acts and omissions by private individuals or public authorities that contravene national legal provisions on the environment. The Aarhus Convention enshrines a detailed series of environmental rights, the implementation of which is already having a considerable impact on national systems of environmental law and administrative practices in many countries, both within the EU and in the wider European area.
The ultimate aim of the Convention is to increase the openness and democratic legitimacy of government policies on environmental protection, and to develop a sense of responsibility among citizens by giving them the means to obtain information, to assert their interests by participating in the decision-making process, to monitor the decisions of public bodies and to take legal action to protect their environment. The “engaged, critically aware public” is seen as both an essential player and a partner in the formulation and implementation of environmental policies. As a popular target of citizen activism in the EU and its member states, environmental policy has become a testing ground for efforts to transcend traditional models of representative democracy. Thus, developments in the environmental field have prefigured the wider debate on “The principle of participatory democracy”, now enshrined in Article I-46 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, which provides, inter alia, that “Union Institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society” and that “the Commission shall carry out broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union’s actions are coherent and transparent.”
Though the Aarhus Convention focuses on decision-making processes within its states parties, at the national or sub-national level, it may indeed also serve as a catalyst for the democratisation of supra-national and international decision-making processes, which are playing an increasingly significant role as a result of globalisation. In the EU, as we know, supra-national institutions are responsible for much of the legislative process in respect of the environment, and even for some administrative and judicial decisions.
When it signed the Aarhus Convention in 1998, the European Community declared its willingness to apply the provisions of that Convention to its own institutions, thereby contributing to the ongoing debate over the latter’s openness and democratic legitimacy. In October 2003, the Commission submitted to the Council and European Parliament a proposal for applying the relevant provisions of the Aarhus Convention to “EC institutions and bodies” (COM(2003) 622 final). One of the most striking elements of this proposal is that it would introduce a sort of administrative review procedure, accessible to NGOs meeting specific criteria, for certain Commission decisions which may have significant effects on the environment, with ultimately even a possibility of seeking judicial review by the Court of First Instance of the EU.
Through its research and consultancy activities, IES is contributing to the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and the ongoing debate on environmental and participatory rights in the EU and other international fora. Under a research project on “Individual environmental rights in EC environmental law”, IES Researcher Stéphanie Dodeller presented a paper on access to justice in environmental matters in the Court of Justice and Court of First Instance of the EC to a conference organized by the Belgian Association for Environmental Law in cooperation with the Belgian Federal Ministry of Environment on 12 March 2003, and an article on this subject by IES Senior Research Fellow Prof. Marc Pallemaerts and former IES collaborator Stéphanie Dodeller will soon be published in the proceedings of this conference.
Under a contract with the Flemish Administration for Environment and Nature Protection (AMINAL) and the Brussels Institute for Environmental Management (BIM-IBGE), Prof. Pallemaerts is also advising the Belgian regional and federal authorities on the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and representing them at meetings of Convention bodies. In 2003, he was elected Chairman of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention, as well as Chairman of its Task Force on Access to Justice. Throughout 2004, he has chaired several intergovernmental meetings in the framework of the Convention, in order to prepare for the 2nd Meeting of the Parties, which is scheduled to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in May 2005.
Marc Pallemaerts is also among the authors who were invited to contribute to a book on “Engaging the Disenfranchised: Developing Countries and Civil Society in International Governance for Sustainable Development” that is to be published by the United Nations University Press in 2005 (edited by Jessica Green), and was one of the keynote speakers invited by the European Commission at a conference on the relevance of the Aarhus Convention for NGOs in the new member states it hosted in Brussels in early July.
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“Does the EU lead Europe on environmental policy?”
Supranationalism and intergovernmentalism in regional environmental cooperation
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Campus Oefenplein,
Building D, 2nd floor, Room D.2.01
Saturday 13 November 2004, 10:00-17:00
Saturday 13 November 2004 will mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) by the first-ever pan-European meeting of environment ministers. This convention, which entered into force in 1983, has become one of the main regional Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in Europe, spawning an impressive series of protocols laying down specific emission reduction measures for various air pollutants. It was negotiated within the framework of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), which has since served as a forum for international environmental law-making in other areas, resulting in the 1991 Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Asssessment in a Transboundary Context, the 1992 Helsinki Conventions on Transboundary Watercourses and Industrial Hazards and the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Public Participation and their respective protocols. The “Environment for Europe” ministerial political process, launched in Dobris in 1991 after the end of the Cold War, developed from the early environmental policy work of the ECE.
At a recent joint meeting of the bureau of the ECE environmental conventions considerable concern was expressed about the consequences of EU enlargement for future multilateral environmental work within the ECE and “Environment for Europe” framework. Contrary to common perception, the ECE was significantly ahead of the then EEC in the late 1970s on air pollution and later on such issues as environmental democracy and POPs. The ECE environmental conventions helped pave the way for EU enlargement by bringing countries of Central and Eastern Europe closer to environmental standards prevailing in EU member states and other countries of Western Europe. Conversely, the EU is playing an important role in the implementation of ECE environmental conventions by transforming many of their provisions into enforceable law. The ECE, which traditionally served as a forum not only for East-West but also Transatlantic environmental cooperation – since the US and Canada are full members together with all countries of Western, Central and Eastern Europe and all former Soviet republics – is now faced with decreasing “policy space”, as about half its members have now become member states of the EU, and Russia and the US show diminishing interest in ECE activities, which they increasingly regard as an “EU playground”.
Beside ECE, a number of other regional and sub-regional intergovernmental organizations have played a crucial role in the development of environmental policy since the late 1970s, such as the Oslo, Paris and Helsinki Commissions for the protection of the marine environment. Their functioning too is being hampered by EU enlargement and internal market policy.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Geneva Convention, ECOSPHERE, the European Centre for Sustainable Policies on Human and Environmental Rights, in cooperation with the Institute for European Studies of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (IES-VUB) and the Centre for Comparative Regional Integration Studies of the United Nations University (UNU-CRIS), will be organizing a one-day seminar in Brussels on 13 November 2004, on the subject: “Does the EU lead Europe on environmental policy? Supranationalism and intergovernmentalism in regional environmental cooperation”. The purpose of this event is to address and discuss with interested members of the policy and academic communities the lessons and challenges of regional environmental cooperation in the wider Europe and of interaction between supranational and intergovernmental modes of cooperation and integration.
(all speakers confirmed except where indicated)
- “The EU as a model for regional environmental governance” – Prof. Ludwig Krämer, College of Europe & University of Bremen, former Head of Governance Unit, DG ENV, European Commission
- “The ECE, the EU and air pollution” – Harald Dovland, Ministry of Environment, Norway, Chair of the CLRTAP Executive Body
- “The EU, OSPAR and the marine environment” – Claire N. Parker, former Executive Secretary Oslo & Paris Commissions (OSPAR)
- “The ECE, the EU and environmental democracy – Dr. Jerzy Jendroska, Chairman, Environmental Law Centre & Managing Partner, Jendroska Jerzmanski Bar & Partners, Wroclaw, former chair of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention
- “The EU and the ECE in European environmental policy-making: future perspectives” – Kaj Bärlund, Director of ECE Environment Division, UN, Geneva & Jean-François Verstrynge, Honorary Director-General, DG Environment, European Commission (invited)
- “Lessons from regional environmental cooperation in Europe” - Svend Auken, First Deputy Speaker of the Danish Parliament, former Danish Minister of Environment and Energy, chair of the 1998 “Environment for Europe” Ministerial conference, Aarhus (invited)
- “Conclusions: Interaction between regional economic integration organizations and the UN regional economic commissions” – Dr. Luk Van Langenhove, Director, UNU-CRIS
Further information can be obtained from the IES website
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Symposium on Human Rights in Africa
The Research Group Human Rights (HUMR) of the VUB and the Institute for European Studies organise a study afternoon on “Human Rights Protection in Africa: a new Court, new instruments and new developments. A European Reflection”. The symposium will take place in Building D, room D.2.01 (Promotiezaal) on Wednesday 17 November 2004 from 16:00-18:30.
Speakers are Rachel Murray (University of Bristol)
Stefaan Smis (VUB), Roelof Haveman (Universiteit Leiden), Mary O’Shea
(European Commission), Mutoy Mubiala (United Nations), Paul De Hert
Chairman will be IES President Prof. Dr. Bart De Schutter. Luk Van Langenhove (Director UNU-CRIS) will moderate the discussion. Entrance is free of charge. Please register with the IES Secretariat if you wish to participate, or monitor the IES website for more information (www.ies.be).
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Contributed to this Newsletter:
- Study at IES
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