The aim of the paper is to unpack the recent developments relating to the disputes arising from the ΕU originated Water Legislation in the wake of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgments in the Wasserleitungsverband Nördliches Burgenland and Others (C-197/18) and IL and Others (C- 535/18) Cases respectively. A first issue which is analysed, concerns the contribution of the CJEU Judgments in terms of filling the absence of EU minimum procedural standards, particularly with respect to the standing rights of the natural persons to challenge the decisions of the competent authorities not to take the necessary measures to combat nitrates pollution and the decisions approving infrastructure projects with effects on the water bodies. Issues concerning the standard of review of the respective decisions, which may go beyond the ‘manifest error of assessment’ criterion and the conditions under which direct effect is recognized to the provisions of the EU Environmental Directives, are also discussed. The main conclusion is that the discussed Rulings made a positive contribution in terms of enhancing access to justice before national courts, mainly by ensuring the standing rights of the individual applicants through the enrichment of the concept of those ‘directly concerned’ with the element of the ‘legitimate use’ of the protected environmental good and by reaffirming the Court’s thesis for the direct effect of the provisions of the EU Environmental Directives, which focuses on the obligations of the competent authorities. The Court’s thesis in the IL and Others Case concerning the discretion of MS to limit the pleas which can be permissibly submitted by the individual applicants with regard to the procedural defects does not, though, clarify the issue in a manner that would ensure effective access to justice before national courts.
European Energy and Environmental Law Review – Kluwer Law International
Published: Aug 1, 2021