WITH LESS than two months remaining before the EU elections, the environmental legal NGO ClientEarth is spearheading a call for a paradigm shift in EU decision-making processes to address the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises; and ensure people and the planet can thrive.

However, the EU’s climate and nature objectives are currently being undermined by many factors, from a lack of resources at EU level to ensure the proper enforcement of laws, to a lack of compliance with the rule of law – as seen by the recent unlawful changes made to the Common Agricultural Policy, the watering down of the Industrial Emissions Directive, or the last minute horse-trading on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.

To address these challenges and build a healthy, fair and socially responsible future, ClientEarth has published a manifesto for the next EU leaders, urging them to put people and the environment at the centre of all decision-making processes, as required by one of the EU’s core legal texts, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

To comply with the Treaty, ClientEarth is pushing for environmental and social requirements to be integrated into the definition and the implementation of all EU policies and laws.

Anaïs Berthier, Head of ClientEarth’s Brussels office, said: “The next five years will be critical in tackling the triple crisis and the decisions our leaders make now will affect present and future generations. We must act quickly to address these challenges before they make our planet unliveable.

“This is why we are stepping in to demand that the next EU leaders put people and the environment back at the heart of the decisions they take. Environmental integration must become a cornerstone of policy making – this is crucial for the health of people and the planet.”

To achieve this vision, ClientEarth outlines four key priorities for future EU leaders:

  • Appoint a European Commission Vice-President for People and the Environment: This position would follow through and build on the European Green Deal’s climate, nature, and social commitments and integrate them across all EU decision-making.
  • Review EU budgets and funding: End public financial support to activities detrimental to the environment, beginning with fossil fuels and energy-intensive industries; Increase support for a just transition and the application of the polluter pays principle.
  • Enhance environmental implementation resources: Bolster enforcement efforts by increasing capacity and resources dedicated to environmental implementation at both EU and national levels.
  • Strengthen environmental democracy: Uphold access to information, public participation, and access to justice rights to empower civil society in enforcing relevant laws.

Berthier added: “To reach our climate and nature goals, we need all environmental laws, including those adopted under the EU Green Deal, to be implemented and ensure they result in real action on the ground. To do that, we need to protect and strengthen our EU legal system and ensure compliance with the rule of law. We also need the right mechanisms in place to enforce these laws, and make sure competent authorities, both at EU and national level, have sufficient resources and capacity to do so.

“For both people and planet to thrive, our future decision-makers must uphold peoples’ right to participate in the decisions that will affect their future and enable individuals to claim compensation and hold those responsible to account when they put peoples’ health in jeopardy.

“Putting the environment, health and the just transition at the core of decision-making will guarantee a holistic approach to progress across the EU and mean that no decision is taken at the cost of people and nature.

Source: ClientEarth