European Environmental Law
Full course description
Environmental law has emerged as an extremely dynamic field of law, particularly in view of the urgent need to develop adequate regulatory approaches to deal with various transboundary and global environmental problems. This course addresses the role of EU law in protecting human health and the natural environment against the (potentially) damaging effects of pollution. The global problem of climate change and the regulatory responses to this by the EU serve as the leading case study: the EU has tried to establish itself as a global leader to fight climate change and has adopted an impressive package of legislation addressing greenhouse gas emissions, with a prominent role for market-based regulation in order to reach efficient outcomes. The course will identify what specific responsibilities rest on Member States in this respect. Meanwhile, Environmental nongovernmental organisations (ENGOs) have got strong legal rights, including access to information and access to justice, which will be thoroughly discussed. Furthermore, environmental litigation is on the rise, and the course will discuss leading cases, particularly in the field of climate change.
The course covers:
- EU competences for environmental decision-making and the possibilities for Member States to adopt (more stringent) regulatory action;
- the interplay between international environmental law and EU environmental law; particular attention will go to international climate treaty law and international regulation of environmental procedural rights, and how this impacts EU law;
- human rights (ECHR) and the environment, sustainable development and the right of future generations, and procedural rights for environmental organisations and potential victims;
- regulatory instruments for reducing the polluting behaviour of industries, with attention to the market-based instrument known as “emissions trading”;
- enforcement of environmental law in view of EU secondary legislation establishing liability of polluters.
Tutorials (problem-based learning), knowledge clips and shortlectures / please note that further announcements about on-line teaching for this course will be made through Canvas.
- The main assessment method consists of essay questions (written exam). This exam counts for 90% of the grade.
Most likely, this examination will take place through Canvas - hence in an electronic manner. Further announcements will be made in due time.
- In addition, counting for 10% of the final grade, each student is expected to deliver an individual oral presentation on an assigned topic, to be delivered before a determined deadline during the course period. Further requirements such as duration, format and way of delivering (in class or / and online) will be published on Canvas. A full point will be awarded for presentations being satisfactory to excellent. No point will be awarded if the presentation cannot be graded as satisfactory at the minimum. The full point will count as 10% of the final grade.
Depending on the number of students, and by exception, the re-sit might take the form of an oral exam (to be decided by the course-coordinator).
Specific information about the exam will be posted on Canvas.
The main objectives of this course are that the student:
- acquires knowledge of the main characteristics, developments, strengths and weaknesses of European environmental law;
- understands the relationship between international and European environmental law, in particular in the field of climate change and in the field of procedural rights;
- understands the existence and relevance of environmental procedural rights, and is capable of identifying legal strategies for improving environmental protection;
- can develop a critical analysis of specific environmental law developments, in particular governmental policies, and regulations and court decisions
Bachelor-level based knowledge of European law is strongly recommended.
The course uses electronic means to provide the students with a rich compilation of relevant articles, book chapters, and blogs.