Commission v Germany: Germany found in breach of EIA Directive over two road building projects.

Germany was held by the European Court of Justice to have breached Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (the EIA Directive) as amended by Directive 97/11/EEC.

Judgement was given in the case of the European Commission v Germany on 10 March 2005.
The case concerned road building projects in Rhineland Palatinate and North-Rhine Westphalia, two German Länder in which the legal obligations under the EIA Directive had not been transposed timeously and in the correct manner.

Following the issue of an initial warning letter in December 2001, a reasoned opinion was addressed to the Federal Republic of Germany on 17 December 2002 inviting Germany to take all the necessary measurements to comply with the opinion within 2 months of its receipt. However as the necessary measures had not been taken to ensure compliance, the European Commission brought proceedings against the Federal Republic of Germany on 18 December 2003.

The European Commission sought a Declaration of the Court to the effect that Germany had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 4 of Directive 85/337/EEC, and points 7(b) and (c) of Annex I and point 10(e) of Annex II.

With the period for transposition of Directive 97/11/EC amending Directive 85/337/EEC having expired on 14 March 1999 without Germany having implemented the necessary EIA measures in relation to road construction projects within the Federal Land of Rhineland-Palatinate and through allowing road construction projects within the Federal Land of North Rhine-Westphalia to be granted development consent without an environmental impact assessment having been carried out should a road construction project be expected to have a significant impact on the environment, Germany had failed to transpose the Directive correctly.

Germany was therefore condemned by the ECJ for a second time for breaching European EIA law, following an earlier ruling in respect of EIA in 1998, and ordered to pay the costs of the action. The judgement in the case is currently only available in French and German though should shortly be available in English through the following link: www.curia.eu.int/en/content/juris/index_form.html


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