Environmental Complaint-handling and Mediation Mechanisms at National Level
Improving the implementation and enforcement of European environmental legislation will be one of the key priorities of the EU’s upcoming 7th Environmental Action Programme. In a study for the European Commission the Ecologic Institute, together with the Institute for European Environmental Policy and BIO Intelligence Service, is studying several options to improve the national complaint-handling and mediation mechanisms in the environmental field.
Environmental law is characterised in many cases by its lack of directly and individually affected private persons as well as its complexity. Therefore, this field of law needs specific complaint procedures as well as innovative approaches, such as mediation procedures and the intervention of ombudspersons or petitions committees. In EU Member States there exists a variety of different complaint mechanisms with specific pre-conditions depending on the country's legal tradition and administrative structures. Besides this, some EU Member States already made experiences with different innovative proceedings and approaches that could serve as good practice examples for dealing with environmental complaints. However, there is currently no general framework on how the relevant national authorities should respond to concerns and complaints about EU environmental law at national level.
This project will:
- identify and analyse the characteristics of different complaint-handling and mediation mechanisms in a set of ten Member States;
- identify the features of existing complaint-handling mechanisms which are most certain to:
• gain citizen confidence in the application of EU environmental law; and
• ensure cost-effectiveness and practicability of the verification system;
- describe how mediation could be useful in dispute resolution in the field of EU environmental law and in relation to Member State legal implementation;
- provide an outline of possible improvements to mediation and complaint-handling mechanisms with the aim of enforcing compliance with EU environmental law.
Thus, the research will use quantification of impacts wherever data is available, but will rely on qualitative assessments where such information is insufficient or lacking.