Professor Gabriel Michanek of Sweden’s Uppsala University came to the Pace Law School today, and presented in my Natural Resources Law Class on "Swedish and EU Environmental Law," focusing on controversial issues between the EU and Sweden, the fisheries in the EU, water law in relation to the EU water framework directive and comparing EU/Sweden with U.S. environmental law. Some takeaways from the lecture:
-Despite the view of many, Sweden is imperfect. Sweden convicted 19 times before Court of Justice of the EU on environmental issues (often on air quality standards).
-There are significant challenges in harmonizing national environmental law with EU environmental law, especially in determining legal interpretive questions about the effect of EU directives.
-The usefulness of Sweden’s environmental courts. I note that environmental courts are becoming increasingly popular in China, and exist in Vermont as well.
-Two big controversial issues: (1) EU fishery policy – How to attain sustainable stocks since fish stocks in the NE Atlantic are in trouble (79% of the fish stocks are overfished), and (2) Good water status in EU water when it clashes with national law of the Member States. This is a particular problem in Sweden where water licenses may be "eternal" with some hundreds of years old. Sweden must significantly change its water law in order to comply with EU law. Will the EU bring Sweden to court?