Scientific support for legal protection in environmental matters in the 19th legislative period

The scope and area of application of the environmental lawsuit in Germany are determined by European and international law. By signing the Aarhus Convention (AC), Germany has committed itself to implementing the legal protection and participation guarantees granted therein.

The implementation of these obligations under international law in national law, specifically in the existing system of administrative legal protection, has been criticized several times in the past by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) as well as by bodies of the AK as insufficient.

Since 2006, the Environmental Appeals Act (UmwRG) has regulated the conditions under which recognized environmental associations can have environmentally relevant decisions reviewed by German courts.

Most recently, amendments to the UmwRG came into force in mid-2017, which serve to implement decisions of the European Court of Justice and the Conference of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention and aim to provide environmental associations with improved access to courts in accordance with the requirements of the Aarhus Convention and the ECJ.

With this amendment, the German Bundestag also adopted a resolution in which it calls on the Federal Government, among other things, to report on its practical experience in implementing the amendment. One of the main points of the resolution is the question of whether the change in the law has led to an increase in environmental appeals under the UmwRG and to a significant prolongation of decision-making procedures.

On behalf of the BMU and the UBA, the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues is investigating this and other questions, building on the UfU’s many years of empirical studies on the occurrence of class actions, as well as through accompanying legal studies.

The research project includes several specialist events aimed at representatives of environmental associations, courts and authorities, as well as trade associations, project developers and lawyers.

On June 10, 2021, the results of the research project were publicly presented and discussed at a parliamentary breakfast. You can find more information about the event here.


Project completion
– The finished study was published by the Federal Environment Agency and can be accessed here:

– A background paper summarizing the study can be downloaded here: