Knock knock! Is anyone there? EU citizens are being ‘locked out’ of environmental decision making

EU governments are failing to ensure public participation in environmental decision-making, according to a new report.

Power for the people‘ – published this week by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) – shows how citizens’ groups across the EU face many restrictions which prevent them from properly being included in public participation processes on issues that affect their lives.

While all EU governments have signed up to an international treaty that commits them to taking the public and NGOs’ concerns on environmental matters into account, in many countries there are too many constraints that limit proper participation.

The EEB warns that these trends pose significant dangers to both our democracies and our environment.

META takes a look at the report’s main findings to find out what is preventing people have a say across Europe.


NGOs must have at least 100 members to be allowed to take part in public participation processes.


If an NGO receives more than €23,000 from outside the country, the NGO is categorised as ‘foreign-funded’ and all publications must be stamped as such. Failure to do so can result in the dissolution of the NGO.

Because of such serious breaches of EU principles, Hungary has already risked losing its voting rights in the EU under article 7 of the Treaty.


Recently, ATTAC Germany – an organisation involved in the ‘alter-globalisation’ movement – has lost its charitable status on the basis that its work did not fit with one of the 25 priorities of the government.


In December 2018, during the UN climate talks in Katowice, at least 12 members of civil society groups with UN accreditation were denied entry into Poland as they were considered a ‘threat to security’. This case is particularly disturbing in light of the importance of civil society participation in fighting climate change.

Because of serious breaches to the rule of law, Poland, like Hungary, has been subject to article 7 measures (article 7 is a sanction against a member state which can result in voting rights being suspended).

United Kingdom

A public consultation was carried out for the expansion of Heathrow airport. But the results of this consultation were published only after the Parliament already took its decision on the matter.

Check out our report on the European Environmental Bureau website.