European implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the digital age (EU-AarCo)

The Aarhus Convention was adopted in 1998 to strengthen the participation of civil society in the environmental sector. It is the first international environmental treaty to set international minimum standards for access to environmental information for all people, participation in environmental decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. In addition to the European Member States, the European Union (EU) is also a party to the Convention and must transpose its provisions into European law and adapt the rules of procedure of its institutions and bodies to them. However, there are still various shortcomings with regard to the legislative and practical implementation of the Aarhus Convention at EU level. In particular, access to the European courts is not guaranteed for environmental activists and environmental associations. Digitalization also brings new challenges, for example in the implementation of access rights. There is also a lack of information: many citizens and environmental associations know too little about their opportunities for participation at EU level.

The project therefore focuses on the one hand on organizing dialogue and positioning processes regarding the implementation of the Aarhus Convention at European level, and on the other hand on preparing information and creating educational materials on the topics of access to environmental information, participation and legal protection in environmental matters at European level.

From May 2020, UfU will be holding five (partly digital) workshop discussions with European civil society. The talks offer a space for European civil society, experts and practitioners of environmental law to exchange views and position themselves on the lack of effective access to European courts, as attested by the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention in proceedings ACCC/C/2008/32. The aim is to develop a participatory concept capable of gaining majority support on how to guarantee effective legal protection for civil society at EU level in the future.

04/2020 – 12/2021


Funded by
This project is funded by the Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety within the framework of association funding. The funds are made available by resolution of the German Bundestag.
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection

Logo Federal Environment Agency

Federal Environment Agency

About the Aarhus Convention

Further information on the Aarhus Convention and its implementation at European level can be found here:

Short films

What rights to information, participation and legal action do citizens and NGOs have at EU level? The four short films and three UfU brochures explain this clearly and concisely:

1) Introduction: What significance does the Aarhus Convention have for civil society’s rights to information, participation and legal action?

2) Environmental information: What is environmental information and how can you get it from EU institutions?

3) Public participation: What ways are there to get involved at EU level?

4) Legal protection: What legal action can you take for environmental protection in Europe?