EU Commission back on the compliance warpath

Further burst of environmental law infringement actions announced targeting most EU countries

The European Commission today announced a raft of further infringement actions against EU member states for failure to comply with various environmental laws. The actions, which target 12 countries for non-compliance with six EU directives, are the last of a batch agreed by commissioners before the summer break. More are likely to flow from the Commission's next quarterly "infringements" meeting, which is due in November.

* Dangerous substances in water directive 1976: The most serious action could eventually see GREECE suffer the imposition of another EU fines, following its repeat condemnation in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) earlier this year over an unmanaged Cretan waste dump (ENDS Daily 4 July).

The current case concerns alleged pollution of Lake Vegoritis by industrial discharge of dangerous substances. Greece was found guilty of flouting the directive in 1998, and the Commission says the situation has not improved sufficiently and is to send Athens a reasoned opinion - a second warning letter before it refers the matter to the ECJ once again.

The Commission is also to take FRANCE to the court for failure to adopt general pollution reduction programmes and deadlines, and will send IRELAND a reasoned opinion over the same offence. It says Irish controls on phosphorus emissions from farms are inadequate.

* Wild Birds directive 1979: SWEDEN is to be taken to the ECJ over "inadequate conservation safeguards" in the special protection areas set up under the law. BELGIUM is to receive two reasoned opinions over separate alleged infringements of the directive, while PORTUGAL is also to get a reasoned opinion. A new infringement procedure is to be initiated against FINLAND. In a first warning letter the Commission says it wrongly assessed the impact of the construction of the Vuotos power plant on the protected Kemihaara mires in the north-east of the country.

* Habitats directive 1992: BELGIUM and LUXEMBOURG are to be summoned to the ECJ, while SWEDEN is to receive a reasoned opinion, all over "extensive shortcomings" in their compliance with the law.

* Fuel quality directive 1998: GERMANY and ITALY receive reasoned opinions for failing to notify the Commission of national legislation implementing EU agreements to tighten standards diesel fuels and outlaw unleaded petrol.

* Dangerous substances directive 1967: The NETHERLANDS faces a court appearance while PORTUGAL and FINLAND are to get reasoned opinions over alleged failures to adopt EU-agreed technical revisions to this law, which governs the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances.

* Access to environmental information directive 1990: The Commission alleges that four regions of AUSTRIA - Burgenland, Salzburg, Lower Austria and Carinthia - have failed to properly comply with the directive, and is to send a first warning letter.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and press releases IP/00/1003, IP/00/1004, IP/00/1005, IP/00/1006, IP/00/1007 and IP/00/1008 on Rapid.

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