Communication: new case No. 0234 of 2022

IDENTIFIER
62022CN0234
LANGUAGE
English
COURT
Court of Justice of the European Union
AG OPINION
NO
REFERENCES MADE
0
REFERENCED
0
DOCUMENT TYPE
Communication: new case

Judgment



20.6.2022   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 237/39


Request for a preliminary ruling from the Tallinna Halduskohus (Estonia) lodged on 4 April 2022 — Roheline Kogukond MTÜ, Eesti Metsa Abiks MTÜ, Päästame Eesti Metsad MTÜ and Sihtasutus Keskkonnateabe Ühendus v Keskkonnaagentuur

(Case C-234/22)

(2022/C 237/50)

Language of the case: Estonian

Referring court

Tallinna Halduskohus

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicants: Roheline Kogukond MTÜ, Eesti Metsa Abiks MTÜ, Päästame Eesti Metsad MTÜ and Sihtasutus Keskkonnateabe Ühendus

Defendant: Keskkonnaagentuur

Questions referred

1.

Must data such as those relating to the location of permanent sample plots for the statistical forest inventory in the main proceedings be classified as environmental information within the meaning of Article 2(1)(a) or (b) of the environmental information directive? (1)

2.

If, according to the answer to the first question, they are to be classified as environmental information: Is Article 4(1)(d) of the environmental information directive consequently to be interpreted as meaning that data on the location of permanent sample plots for the statistical forest inventory are also to be classified as material in the course of completion or unfinished documents or data?

Is Article 4(2)(a) of the environmental information directive to be interpreted as meaning that the condition laid down in that provision — namely that the relevant confidentiality is provided for by law — is satisfied where the confidentiality requirement is laid down by law not for a specific type of information but results, by way of interpretation, from a provision of an instrument of a general nature, such as the Law on public information or the Law on State statistics?

Is it necessary, for the purposes of the application of Article 4(2)(b) of the environmental information directive, to establish the existence of actual negative effects on the international relations of the State resulting from the disclosure of the requested information, or is it sufficient to establish that there is a risk in that regard?

Does the ground of ‘the protection of the environment [in question]’ referred to in Article 4(2)(h) of the environmental information directive justify restricting access to environmental information in order to ensure the reliability of State statistics?

3.

If, according to the answer to the first question, data such as those relating to the location of the permanent sample plots for the statistical forest inventory in the main proceedings are not environmental information, must a request for information concerning such data be regarded as a request for access to information as defined in Article 2(1)(b) of the environmental information directive, which must be treated in accordance with Article 8(2)?

4.

If the third question is answered in the affirmative: Must data such as those relating to the location of the permanent sample plots for the statistical forest inventory in the main proceedings be regarded as information on methods of analysis, sampling and pre-treatment of samples within the meaning of Article 8(2) of the environmental information directive?

5.

If the fourth question is answered in the affirmative: Can the access to such information under Article 8(2) of the environmental information directive be restricted for any serious reason arising from national law?

Can a refusal to release information on the basis of Article 8(2) of the environmental information directive be mitigated by other measures, such as measures which provide access to the requested information to research and development institutions or to the Court of Auditors for the purposes of an audit?

6.

Can a refusal to release data such as those relating to the location of the permanent sample plots for the statistical forest inventory in the main proceedings be justified by the objective of ensuring the quality of environmental information within the meaning of Article 8(1) of the environmental information directive?

7.

Does recital 21 of the environmental information directive constitute a legal basis for the release of data relating to the location of permanent sample plots for the statistical forest inventory?


(1)  Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC (OJ 2003 L 41, p. 26).



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