PRAVNI ZAPISI • Year I • No. 1 • pp. 171-182
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION REFORM IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Prof. dr Aleksandra Čavoški
Vanredna profesorka, Pravni fakultet Univerziteta Union u Beogradu
Pravni zapisi, no. 1/2010, pp. 171-182
Original Scientific Article
The Lisbon Treaty, climate change, democratic initiative, civil protection, energy, solidarity clause, the Charter of Human Rights, the Commissioner for Climate Change, national parliaments.
Over time, environmental protection has become a significant area of work in the European Union where competences are divided among Member States and the Union. Each amendment of the founding treaties, in particular the Single European Act, envisaged novelties in this matter in order to respond to problems occurring as a consequence of industrial and technological development in the European Union. The most recent amendment of the treaties is the Lisbon Treaty which brought about significant changes, the most significant of which deserve to be mentioned. Already in the objectives of the Union, there is a greater commitment to environmental protection and significance of this area in relations of the Union with other parts of the world, as well as preservation of the welfare of animals. The right to a healthy environment is clearly defined by the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights as one of the new generation rights.
Significant changes relate to competences of bodies in this area, especially national parliaments in legislative procedure, which have a task to control the competences of the Union on the expense of Member States’ competences. It is worth mentioning the High Representative in charge of external affairs of the Union, also including issues from this area. Appointment of the new Commissioner for Climate Change is one more practical consequence of the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, which is supposed to secure greater commitment to current problems of the environment.
In relation to transparency and desire to bring the Union closer to its citizens, it is worth mentioning civic initiatives, since citizens can un- der certain conditions force the Commission to prepare a proposal of an act in this field. Widening the co-decision procedure, that is the regular legislative procedure, is a significant procedural change envisaged by this reform. The Lisbon Treaty also envisages cooperation in two more areas closely related to environmental protection and these are energy consumption and civil protection. In that sense, the Treaty determined a solidarity clause which provides for mutual assistance to victims in case of a disaster occuring as a result of climate changes or as a consequence of human activity.