Germany under pressure on impact assessment

Commission announces final warning before renewed court action, also targets seven other countries

The European Commission has sent Germany a final warning of renewed action in the European Court of Justice unless it complies with a previous judgement against it for non-compliance with the 1985 EU directive on environmental impact assessment (EIA). In an announcement yesterday the Commission added that it would also send reasoned opinions to Austria, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Greece, Spain and the UK for failure to transpose into national law a series of amendments to the EIA directive passed in 1997.

Germany was condemned by the court in 1998, but has made no progress on implementing the directive, according to the Commission. If the case goes before the court again, the Commission is empowered to request daily fines in the event of a second condemnation. Ireland was condemned by the court last year for failing to apply the same directive (ENDS Daily 22 September 1999).

The 1997 EIA directive (97/11) extends the original 1985 law (85/337) to include a greater number of project categories. It also reinforces the requirements for projects with cross-border environmental impacts, and provides a screening process so that individual EU countries can determine which projects need an environmental impact assessment. The legislation should have been transposed into national law by 14 March 1999.

"Any further delay in completing the transposition of the amended EIA directive impedes integration of the environment into other policies and the promotion of sustainable development," EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström said yesterday.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and official press release dated 28/2/00, (IP/00/193), posted on Rapid.

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