Greece closer to EU fines over battery law

Commission says court judgement has not been heeded; raps Portugal over drinking water

Greece has moved a step closer to the threat of heavy fines for failure to implement a 1991 EU directive on pollution from batteries and accumulators. The European Commission announced today it would send Athens a "reasoned opinion" or second warning of renewed court action if it fails to comply with the law. Greece was condemned on the same issue by the European Court of Justice last year.

Under the directive, EU member states should have drawn up a battery waste plan by 1992 intended to promote recovery and controlled disposal of spent batteries and accumulators containing dangerous substances. Eight years later, Greece has yet to present its plan to the Commission.

Under EU law the European Court of Justice has the power to impose daily fines on member states if it condemns them a second time over the same breach of community law. The threat of heavy fines has so far acted as an effective deterrent. The Commission has renewed infringement proceedings against several member states after a first condemnation, all of which have led to a resolution before a second court judgement.

Also today, the Commission announced it was to send a first reasoned opinion to Portugal over alleged failure to comply with the 1980 drinking water directive. The Commission says Portugal has failed to ensure regional legislation sets the required water quality standards in the Azores islands off Africa. The Commission's action follows a complaint over water quality in the town of Ribeira Grande.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; see also press releases IP/00/469 and IP/00/470 dated 12 May on Rapid.

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