Italy urged to accelerate environmental efforts

Wallström in talks with government, welcomes plans for Milan sewage treatment scheme

EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström has called on the Italian government to "accelerate" its efforts to combat environmental problems during a visit to Italy which ended today. The government especially needed to tackle outstanding problems in water treatment, waste management and transport, she said.

Italy has one of the worst EU environmental law compliance records of member states, Ms Wallström pointed out, citing the notorious example of Milan's lack of adequate wastewater treatment (ENDS Daily 31 January). "It is very good news that work is starting on building treatment plants," she told journalists at a press conference in Rome following a meeting with Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato and environment minister Willer Bordon.

Mr Bordon said that emissions ceilings and the waste water problem were discussed at the meeting, which provided a "rewarding" exchange of views on future environmental initiatives. Thanks to the work carried out by previous governments and former environment minister Edo Ronchi, Italian environmental policy was "rallying strongly," but needed to accelerate, Mr Bordon said.

Ms Wallström gave Italy good marks for effort, especially on setting ceilings for emissions. She expressed concern at Italy's problem with traffic, which Mr Bordon said was being addressed by the government's planned shift from road to rail transport (ENDS Daily 19 April). She also praised Italy's car-free days programme as well as its "prominent role" in the EU counterpart scheme.

Commissioner Wallström said she was concerned by the low number of Italian firms registered with the European environmental management standard EMAS. Only 25 Italian companies have EMAS, according to the latest official statistics (ENDS Daily 11 May).

During her visit, Ms Wallström attended the Italian sustainable cities award, which was won by the towns of Riccione, Ferrara and Palermo. Over 70 towns and municipalities with at least 30,000 inhabitants had applied for the award, presenting 223 initiatives in all.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 06 57 22 55 80, and the sustainable cities award.

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