Principles of EU Environmental Law: An Appraisal

  • Alexander Proelss
Part of the Environmental Protection in the European Union book series (ENVPROTEC, volume 5)


By drawing on the relevant jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), secondary Union law and pertinent statements rendered by the Union institutions, this chapter assesses how the principles of environmental law codified in Article 191 (2) TFEU have been implemented by the institutions of the Union. While compared to the situation under public international, European law has so far not shown significant effects with regard to a substantiation of the principle of prevention, the source principle and the polluter-pays principle, it will be demonstrated that the Union institutions have shaped and operationalized the precautionary principle in a way that goes far beyond what is accepted on the international level. Significantly influenced by the European Commissionʼs Communication on the Precautionary Principle, the ECJ has assigned specific legal consequences to that concept that range from clarifying how the European legislator ought to deal with different levels of uncertainty and environmental risk to the need to observe the principle of proportionality when implementing precautionary measures. By assigning broad discretion to the institutions involved in the legislative process, it has furthermore contributed to the development of functional limitations to its own jurisdiction. Even though violations of the precautionary principle can only be asserted in situations where the Union institutions manifestly ignore the limitations of their powers, or where they manifestly exceed the limits of their discretion, the chapter submits that the approach pursued by the Union institutions has strengthened rather than weakened its normative relevance, and fostered its development into a fundamental principle of environmental law.


Environmental Impact Assessment Precautionary Principle Pulp Mill Union Institution Environmental Principle 
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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LawInstitute of Environmental and Technology Law (IUTR), Trier UniversityTrierGermany

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