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Environmental Protection and Free Movement of Goods after the EU Charter: Towards a New Paradigm?

Paunio, Elina

JFT 2012/3 s. 181


This article discusses whether and to what extent the paradigm governing the interpretation and application of European Union (EU) law is changing in the field of environment and free movement of goods. How does the European Court of Justice (Court) weigh free movement of goods and environmental protection against each other? What is the role of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the EU Charter) in this respect? These questions are addressed in the following by using the Court’s case law relating to free movement of goods and environmental protection to illustrate the paradigm shift that is, arguably, currently taking place in this field. The article is structured as follows. First, the basic tenets governing the interrelationship between free movement of goods and environmental protection in EU law are set out. Then, the role of fundamental rights in the context of free movement is addressed. This role is clarified with the help of two cases relating to Austrian motorways, namely Schmidberger and Brenner Heavy Lorries. Against this background, it is examined how the EU Charter can operate as an instrument broadening the foundations of EU law and whether a new paradigm of interpretation is emerging in this field.

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