Improving Access to Justice

LIFE project: Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

Access to justice enables the citizens to have public and private acts or omissions reviewed by the courts. With this instrument, individuals and NGOs can promote the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies to protect the environment. The A2J-EARL project (Access to Justice - Education and Awareness Raising of Legal Professionals on Access to Justice) therefore aims to improve access to justice (e.g. in administrative proceedings) for NGOs and individuals.

EU environmental legislation is well developed and has become very complex, but there are still many gaps in implementation in the Member States. For this reason, the convincing political and legal framework has not yet produced the desired results.

Experience in the Member States shows that it is not enough to leave the management of transposition deficits to public administration alone. Active citizens, acting either alone or together in citizens' initiatives or through NGOs, can provide significant support for these efforts of the authorities.

There are many ways to carry out "civil enforcement" of EU environmental law - but in order to be effective, access to justice is necessary, for example, to have official decisions checked for their legal conformity.

Training with ÖKOBÜRO environmental lawyer Gregor Schamschula


In order to achieve wide and effective public access to justice, the project aims to

  • increase awareness of existing legislation and case law on access to justice in environmental matters within specific target groups (administrative justice, public administration, NGOs and the Ombudsoffices for Environmental Protection)
  • increase understanding of the importance of adequate access to justice for the national implementation of EU environmental policy and legislation
  • raise awareness of specific challenges and barriers to access to justice in environmental matters at national and European level
  • build knowledge and skills to avoid legal (material and procedural) barriers to effective access to justice in environmental matters

Workshop at project start

Expected results

At least 6,400 people should have access to at least one of the following materials produced during the project:

An "Ask an Expert" function will be set up on the information platform, through which at least 120 people should receive an answer to specific questions on access to justice.

At least 1,000 people will receive training on access to justice in a total of 48 workshops and seminars in the eight Member States and in 12 webinars. About 120 people will share their knowledge and experience at a conference in Brussels.

According to the project, 85 percent of the target groups who have accessed project materials or attended events under the project should have a better understanding of the challenges and hurdles of access to justice in environmental matters.

Project Team

Coordination: Justice & Environment

Partner: ClientEarth, UK


  • Environmental Management and Law Association, Hungary 
  • Estonian Environmental Law Center, Estonia
  • IIDMA - International Institute for Law and the Environment, Spain
  • ÖKOBÜRO  - Alliance of the Austrian Environmental Movement, Austria
  • UfU - Independent Institute for Environmental Issues, Germany
  • Via Iuris, Slovakia

Project period:


This project is funded by the the European commission LIFE programme.

Contact person at ÖKOBÜRO:

MMag. Katharina Scharfetter

For further information, reports and current developments please visit the project website.