Epstein, Y. and Bernet Kempers, E. (2023), Animals and Nature as Rights Holders in the European Union. Mod Law Rev.. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12816
This article argues that EU law can be interpreted to support the current existence of legal rights for animals and nature. While these rights have not been explicitly recognised in law, the prerequisites for doing so already exist in the EU legal order. The theoretical justifications for the protection of animals and nature differ, but the protection of both may benefit from a rights approach. Further, such a rights approach helps address jurisprudential questions pertaining to direct effect and the effectiveness of EU law, and related EU law concepts. In this article, we examine EU animal and nature protection laws to analyse where these laws can be interpreted to assign rights to non-human natural entities. We argue that the rights animals and nature already implicitly have in EU law should have consequences for how non-human protections should be implemented and enforced in the EU context.