Get access

The Precautionary Principle as a Device for Greater Environmental Protection: Lessons from EC Courts


  • Nicolas de Sadeleer was the recipient of one of the first EU Marie Curie chairs, which was established at the law faculty of the University of Oslo from 2004 to 2005. He has taught law in several universities in Belgium, France, Peru, Thailand, China and Norway. He is presently teaching in Brussels, Paris and Louvain. Nicolas de Sadeleer's areas of research and teaching include EC institutional law, comparative law, EC and international environmental law, health and consumer law, and the free movement of goods. Key publications by Professor de Sadeleer include Environmental Principles (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Implementing the Precautionary Principle (ed.) (Earthscan, 2007). He is currently writing a book on the EU Internal Market and the Environment.


Given that the precautionary principle has never been defined in the EC Treaty, the EC jurisdictions have been playing a key role in determining the status as well as the scope of that principle. Although scholars have hitherto been paying heed to the case law on food safety, the literature has become a little thinner when one considers environmental case law. This article attempts to set the scene to explain how the precautionary principle can be invoked in different judiciary procedures at the EU level.

Get access to the full text of this article