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The Role of Competence in EU Implementation and Enforcement of IEAs - A case study on the Aarhus Convention

Lauridsen, Ida LU (2015) LAGM01 20152
Department of Law
Abstract
The aim of this thesis is to identify and study the division of competence between the EU and its Member States in relation to international environmental agreements (IEAs) and to attempt to ascertain how this division affects the responsibility for implementation and enforcement of IEAs in the EU, and to some extent, the liability towards third parties. In order to establish the role of competence for compliance with IEAs, five research questions were formulated. These concern how the division of competences affect the implementation of IEAs, EU enforcement of IEAs, the attribution of responsibility for non-compliance, the effect on the realisation of IEAs and the practical application of these rules. For the latter, a case study on the... (More)
The aim of this thesis is to identify and study the division of competence between the EU and its Member States in relation to international environmental agreements (IEAs) and to attempt to ascertain how this division affects the responsibility for implementation and enforcement of IEAs in the EU, and to some extent, the liability towards third parties. In order to establish the role of competence for compliance with IEAs, five research questions were formulated. These concern how the division of competences affect the implementation of IEAs, EU enforcement of IEAs, the attribution of responsibility for non-compliance, the effect on the realisation of IEAs and the practical application of these rules. For the latter, a case study on the Aarhus Convention was completed to study how competence has been approached in relation to an IEA.

Environmental agreements are, as a rule, mixed agreements, meaning that both the EU and its Member States has acceded to the agreement. The reason for this is that competence is, according to Article Article 4 (2)(e) TFEU, shared between the EU and the Member States in environmental matters. According to case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), mixed agreements, just as other international agreements that the EU is a party to, are considered as primary legislation within the EU legal order. When acceding to an IEA, the practice of the EU is to submit a declaration of competence, clarifying the division of competence in relation to the agreement in question, and the responsibilities of the EU and the Member States respectively.

The study shows that the role of compliance varies in relation to different features associated with compliance. The main ones studied in this thesis are: the implementation of an IEA in the EU, commission enforcement of IEAs and the attribution of liability for the fulfilment of IEA obligations. In relation to implementation, the internal competence rules of the EU seem to be fully applied. It is clear from the Aarhus Convention that the EU has the discretion to divide the responsibility for the fulfilment of the obligations of the Convention between itself and its Member States.

The question of Commission enforcement of IEAs is less clear. CJEU case law makes clear that the Commission has a wide competence to bring Member States before the CJEU failing to respect provisions of a mixed agreement. Although it is the responsibility of the Commission to supervise the application of EU legislation, this duty does not seem to be reflected in relation to the supervision of compliance with IEAs.

Regarding liability, the basic rule is that the EU and its Member States are jointly liable for the fulfilment of obligations arising from mixed agreements. However, there are cases where the EU has stated that it is not responsible for the performance of a specific provision, but that it’s Member States carry this responsibility. In relation to the Aarhus Convention, the Compliance Committee has in general taken a pragmatic standpoint that the party that is the ablest to ensure compliance with the Convention is responsible to do so. However, the committee has also concluded that the EU in some cases has a responsibility to monitor Member State implementation of the Convention. However, it is unclear how far this responsibility stretches. (Less)
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author
Lauridsen, Ida LU
supervisor
organization
course
LAGM01 20152
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
EU law, Environmental law
language
English
id
8518023
date added to LUP
2016-01-29 11:36:01
date last changed
2016-01-29 11:36:01
@misc{8518023,
  abstract     = {The aim of this thesis is to identify and study the division of competence between the EU and its Member States in relation to international environmental agreements (IEAs) and to attempt to ascertain how this division affects the responsibility for implementation and enforcement of IEAs in the EU, and to some extent, the liability towards third parties. In order to establish the role of competence for compliance with IEAs, five research questions were formulated. These concern how the division of competences affect the implementation of IEAs, EU enforcement of IEAs, the attribution of responsibility for non-compliance, the effect on the realisation of IEAs and the practical application of these rules. For the latter, a case study on the Aarhus Convention was completed to study how competence has been approached in relation to an IEA. 

Environmental agreements are, as a rule, mixed agreements, meaning that both the EU and its Member States has acceded to the agreement. The reason for this is that competence is, according to Article Article 4 (2)(e) TFEU, shared between the EU and the Member States in environmental matters. According to case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), mixed agreements, just as other international agreements that the EU is a party to, are considered as primary legislation within the EU legal order. When acceding to an IEA, the practice of the EU is to submit a declaration of competence, clarifying the division of competence in relation to the agreement in question, and the responsibilities of the EU and the Member States respectively. 

The study shows that the role of compliance varies in relation to different features associated with compliance. The main ones studied in this thesis are: the implementation of an IEA in the EU, commission enforcement of IEAs and the attribution of liability for the fulfilment of IEA obligations. In relation to implementation, the internal competence rules of the EU seem to be fully applied. It is clear from the Aarhus Convention that the EU has the discretion to divide the responsibility for the fulfilment of the obligations of the Convention between itself and its Member States. 

The question of Commission enforcement of IEAs is less clear. CJEU case law makes clear that the Commission has a wide competence to bring Member States before the CJEU failing to respect provisions of a mixed agreement. Although it is the responsibility of the Commission to supervise the application of EU legislation, this duty does not seem to be reflected in relation to the supervision of compliance with IEAs.

Regarding liability, the basic rule is that the EU and its Member States are jointly liable for the fulfilment of obligations arising from mixed agreements. However, there are cases where the EU has stated that it is not responsible for the performance of a specific provision, but that it’s Member States carry this responsibility. In relation to the Aarhus Convention, the Compliance Committee has in general taken a pragmatic standpoint that the party that is the ablest to ensure compliance with the Convention is responsible to do so. However, the committee has also concluded that the EU in some cases has a responsibility to monitor Member State implementation of the Convention. However, it is unclear how far this responsibility stretches.},
  author       = {Lauridsen, Ida},
  keyword      = {EU law,Environmental law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Role of Competence in EU Implementation and Enforcement of IEAs - A case study on the Aarhus Convention},
  year         = {2015},
}