EU’s international law treaty obligations tested before EU General Court

On 10 January 2019, the EU General Court in Luxembourg heard a significant case testing the compliance of the EU Courts’ rules on standing with the EU’s public international law obligations (under the UN Aarhus Convention) to allow substantive review by civil society of environmental decision-making by the European Commission.

The case is a rare example of the EU Courts being asked to adjudicate on the interaction between EU law and the EU organs’ own international treaty obligations, a subject which is of significant importance to the future relationship between the UK and the EU under any Brexit divorce arrangements and/or agreements on future relations.

Anthony Jones appeared on behalf of the coalition of applicants, the leading European environmental NGOs ClientEarth, the European Environmental Bureau, ChemSec, and IPEN, arguing that the European Commission has acted in breach of EU chemicals regulations in granting an authorization for the manufacture of lead paint, and that the rules on transparency and accountability of environmental decision-making under the Aarhus Convention (to which the EU is a party) entitle NGOs to challenge the substance of the decision before the EU Courts. The Kingdom of Sweden intervened in support of the applicants, and the European Chemicals Agency intervened in support of the European Commission. Judgment has been reserved, and is expected later in 2019.

Anthony acted as sole counsel for the applicant throughout the proceedings. This is the fifth recent case in which Anthony has acted unled before international courts on matters of public international law.

4 New Square is a growing force in the field of public international law, with members regularly acting before international courts and arbitral tribunals in claims involving international organizations, inter-State disputes, and investor-State claims. Please see our practice areas page for more information on 4 New Square’s Public International Law work.