Paul Nihoul, Judge at the General Court in Luxemburg, Professor at Université catholique de Louvain
Presentation of the Conference Around the globe, citizens are asking judges to review the legality of decisions or regulations that are affecting their rights, on issues that had long been reserved to legislators or administrations. This is particularly so in the European Union where, in the Member States, as well as at the level of the Union itself, citizens are turning to judges to obtain decisions or positions which they cannot obtain from legislators in areas such as climate change or public health. For instance, professionals recently sued, in Belgium, the federal state for insufficiently funding the judicial system – thereby making that system unable to exercise the function entrusted to it by the Constitution. In Germany and the Netherlands, citizens started litigating authorities for failing to take the measures necessary to protect public health, in a context where the tragic consequences of air pollution has been set in the limelight.
In the European Union itself, cities, regions and associations are suing the European Commission and sometimes even Parliament and the Council to obtain decisions going in the direction they consider appropriate in the general interest.
- Are these cases isolated? Do they correspond to a new function people would like judges to play in societies?
- How does the judiciary react to these requests?These are questions essential for the evolution of our society, in the context of a Union founded on values such as the rule of law.
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