How do courts deal with legal challenges to EU conservation policy in the context of scientific uncertainty? What tools are available to policy-makers, civil society and private actors to respond to transboundary environmental problems across different jurisdictions? What are the functions of non-binding instruments in EU environmental governance?
Our researchers Dr George Iordachescu and Dr Teresa Lappe-Osthege explored these and other questions at the two-week summer course on EU Environmental Law organised by the Academy of European Law and hosted by the Law Department of the European University Institute in Florence (4-15 July).
Together with more than 40 experts and practitioners of EU environmental law, they examined the legitimacy and applicability of environmental principles in EU law, the procedural challenges of action for annulment and infringement proceedings, as well as the complexities stemming from conflicts over competences between EU institutions and the Member States in regulating environmental protection and policy interventions. These discussions were directly relevant for Beastly Business research as they provide critical insight into broader legislative challenges in responding to the illegal wildlife trade and associated green-collar crimes in Europe.
Certain courses were of immediate relevance for our research and engaged directly with our research themes, while others helped us to better situate environmental policymaking and adjudication in the broader context of the EU legal order. Dr Krajewski’s module on Scientific Complexity in Environmental Matters, for example, discussed how judicial and extra-judicial bodies engage with complex and inherently uncertain scientific appraisals – drawing interesting parallels with our attempts to understand how uncertain scientific knowledge about species status contributes to the illegal wildlife trade by obscuring or facilitating the production of environmental harm. In another specialised course, Prof Mariolina Eliantonio examined how EU binding measures are intertwined with soft law and private or semi-private governance schemes, and how this poses significant legitimacy issues and creates possible loopholes of judicial protection and democratic control – both central topics for our research project, as we look at how diverging regional legislation and inconsistent policy implementation across the EU can create legal disconnects that green-collar offenders can exploit.
Numerous examples of case-law that were used as starting points for discussions touched upon issues of human-wildlife conflict, biodiversity conservation and wildlife management, offering us many opportunities to introduce our research and draw parallels with key discussions in the fields of political ecology and green criminology.
The course was convened by Prof Mariolina Eliantonio (Maastricht University) and featured lectures by Prof Sanja Bogojevic (University of Oxford), Dr Michal Krajewski (University of Copenhagen), Prof Emma Lees (European University Institute), Dr Luca Prete (European Court of Justice/Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and Prof Gerd Winter (University of Bremen).