Belgium, France, in dock over information laws

Commission to apply for court ruling over alleged failure to transpose 1990 directive

Belgium and France are to be taken to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission for failing to apply the 1990 EU directive on environmental information, which guarantees citizens access to environmental information.

The action against Belgium follows several complaints that its legislation allows implicit refusal by authorities to give information by not requiring them to notify applicants. Belgium will now have to defend itself twice on the same issue, as the Commission has started proceedings over non-transposition of the directive at both federal and regional level (ENDS Daily 12 July 1999).

The decision to press charges against France follows an investigation by the Commission itself. Its legal experts say France's national implementing law covers fewer types of information than stipulated in the directive, allows the authorities to refuse requests on grounds not provided for in the directive, and, like the Belgian system, allows for implicit refusal.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; see also press release IP/00/223 dated 6 March on Rapid.

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