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Magna Carta, the environment and the EU

Environmental editor Charles Clover sounds the alarm -

Thanks to Magna Carta, citizens may take their governments to court if they believe they have misapplied the law in Britain, the United States, and in. . .other countries. They may not do this, however, in the European Union , something most of its 500m citizens do not realise. When they do realise, they are shocked.

Let me shock you. From the outside, it certainly looks as though individuals and citizens’ groups are entitled to their day in the European Court of Justice, but this is an illusion.

This year, two environmental groups, the WWF and Greenpeace, tried to put the EU on the spot over the application of its own laws, contending that they had not been applied correctly in the handing out of quotas for overfished North Sea cod and bluefin tuna. (The quotas vastly exceeded those advised by scientists.) Both cases were turned down by the European court on “standing” — the right to participate — one at the beginning of the process, one on appeal. In another case before the court, campaigners are challenging an EU regulation that will increase the levels of pesticide allowed in food. The pesticides case also rests on “standing” as to whether the court will hear the case at all, which is unlikely. As EU law moves tortuously slowly, an appeal is unlikely to conclude before 2014.

There is virtually no other jurisdiction in the world where the decisions of unelected officials affecting the environment and vital resources such as fish, food or fuel are immune from challenge in this way. . .

An inability to hold a government accountable leads to predatory government.


Note: In his column Clover mentions the barons who won Magna Carta. Magna Carta was won by knights and townspeople, barons and bishops, the English and the Welsh. The idea that Magna Carta was a document created only by barons is a Fabian Socialist myth meant to discredit Magna Carta.

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