Environmental CSOs challenge Flemish government over limiting citizen participation


Seven civil society groups have joined forces to take the Flemish government to the Constitutional Court over legal provisions in the so-called 'codextrein', which will change the Flemish Codex on Spatial Planning, thereby curtailing citizen's abilities to appeal "against major construction projects" in their surroundings. Environmental groups, in particular, are concerned that limiting citizens' possibilities to influence and potentially oppose the type and location of proposed construction projects would threaten "the scarce open space in Flanders".

NatuurpuntBond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL), GreenpeaceStRaten-GeneraalAdemloos (Breathless), Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen (Bird Protection), among others, will challenge the state, claiming that the government's actions contravene the constitution which "stipulates that those who want to protect their right to a healthy environment must be given access to justice". 


In July 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the Belgian ban on full-face veils enacted in 2011. Some human right advocates worry that “these rulings embolden other governments to dictate how women can dress, and send a dangerous message that it is acceptable to curtail women’s freedom of expression and belief".