Locus Standi for Environmental Associations under EC Law ‐ Greenpeace ‐ A Missed Opportunity for the ECJ

Published date01 November 1999
AuthorDiana L. Torrens
Date01 November 1999
Locus Standi after Greenpeace Volume 8 Issue 3 1999
Locus Standi
Environmental Associations
under EC Law –
– A Missed
Opportunity for the ECJ
Locus Standi
Environmental Associations
under EC Law –
– A Missed
Opportunity for the ECJ
Diana L. Torrens
The protection of environmental interests in the Euro-
pean Community has been making progress in recent
years, although it still falls far short of what could be
wished for. That is why it is important for Community
institutions to grasp opportunities to further environ-
mental interests when those opportunities arise.
Often the problem in environment-related matters is not
so much a lack of appropriate or adequately-drafted
legislative provisions as a problem of enforcement of
existing provisions. The Commission has a central role
to play in enforcing Community provisions, but Com-
munity legislation of all sorts has undergone exponential
growth in recent years. The ever-increasing complexity
of Community legislation makes it more and more diff‌i-
cult to keep track of the impact of Community legislation
on inter alia people and the environment. A related
development is the increasingly pervasive role Com-
munity legislation plays in the lives of individuals in the
Community. Consequently, it is not only appropriate but
also very desirable that private parties play a greater
role in enforcing Community legislation in suitable cases.
Allowing appropriate individuals and groups to do so is
a logical development in the evolution of Community
The case of Stichting Greenpeace Council v. Commission
shows that it is time for environmental groups to be
recognized as having locus standi under Article 230(4) of
the EC Treaty
to bring cases before the Court of Justice
of the European Communities (ECJ) when environmental
concerns are at stake.
The facts of the Greenpeace case have already been sum-
marized in RECIEL.
Accordingly, the present article will
Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1999, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
focus on offering some thoughts for possible develop-
ment post-Greenpeace.
Locus Standi and How it was
Dealt With in the Greenpeace
Article 230(4)
deals with the standing of non-privileged
parties, i.e., parties not listed in Article 230(2) and (3),
to bring actions where a party other than a privileged
one has been negatively affected by a decision of a Com-
munity institution. It is drafted restrictively and has been
interpreted restrictively by the ECJ. For a non-addressee
of a decision to bring an action under Article 230(4), the
applicant must be ‘directly and individually’ concerned
by the decision.
‘Direct concern’ denotes causation: there must be a cau-
sal link between the decision and the negative reper-
cussion suffered by the applicant. If the applicant is not
affected or if the effect is occasioned by some novus
actus interveniens, e.g. an administrative decision by a
national authority pursuant to a Commission regulation,
the line of causation is broken and the concern will no
longer be direct.
In practice the examination of direct concern will often
be subsumed into the examination of whether the appli-
cant is individually concerned.
‘Individual concern’ means that the applicant must be
affected by the decision in a way different from everyone
else. The case law has not been generous to non-privi-
leged applicants, although the ECJ has been capable of
surprising latitude sometimes.

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