Article 47 - Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
Article 52 - Scope and interpretation
Key facts of the case:
Request for a preliminary ruling from the Rechtbank Limburg.
Reference for a preliminary ruling – Aarhus Convention – Article 9(2) and (3) – Access to justice – No access to justice for the public other than the public concerned – Admissibility of the action subject to prior participation in the decision-making procedure.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (First Chamber) hereby rules:
64) In such circumstances, notwithstanding the fact that it constitutes, as a precondition for bringing judicial proceedings, a limitation on the right to an effective remedy before a court within the meaning of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), the Court has found that such a condition may be justified, in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Charter, to the extent that it is provided for by law, it respects the essence of that law, it is necessary, subject to the principle of proportionality, and it genuinely meets objectives of the public interest recognised by the European Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others (see, to that effect, judgment of 20 December 2017, Protect Natur-, Arten- und Landschaftsschutz Umweltorganisation, C–664/15, EU:C:2017:987, paragraph 90).
65) In the present case, irrespective of whether Article 47 of the Charter should be applied to judicial proceedings which would concern only the more extensive rights to participate in the decision-making procedure which are conferred solely by national law, it is apparent that the conditions set out in the previous paragraph of this judgment are, in any event, satisfied.
66) It follows from the order for reference that a condition of admissibility of an action based on prior participation in the decision-making procedure is provided for by a law, for the purposes of Article 47 of the Charter. That condition moreover respects the essential content of the fundamental right to effective judicial protection, as enshrined in that article, since it does not call into question that right as such but merely imposes an additional procedural step in order to exercise it (see, to that effect, judgment of 27 September 2017, Puškár, C–73/16, EU:C:2017:725, paragraph 64). In addition, it meets the objective of general interest referred to in paragraph 63 of this judgment and it is not evident that any disadvantages caused by the obligation to participate in the procedure preparatory to the contested decision are clearly disproportionate to that objective (see, to that effect, judgment of 27 September 2017, Puškár, C–73/16, EU:C:2017:725, paragraphs 66, 67 and 69).