Luxembourg in the dock over waste transfers

Commission to launch court action alleging misuse of "proximity" principle to block exports

The European Commission is to take Luxembourg to court for refusing to allow wastes to be sent to a French incinerator equipped for energy recovery, the EU executive announced today. Luxembourg's stance breaches the EU's 1975 framework waste directive and 1993 waste shipment regulations, the Commission alleges.

Under these rules, EU member states can invoke the proximity and self-sufficiency principles to prevent exports of waste to other EU countries if they are to be disposed of, for example in a landfill or in an incinerator without energy recovery. But exports cannot be blocked if waste is to be recovered, and energy recovery falls into this category.

"The Commission is committed to upholding the principle that waste should not be restricted from being shipped across frontiers for recovery," environment commissioner Margot Wallström commented today. "This helps to ensure that an efficient market in waste recovery can function in the Community, for the benefit of the environment."

The European Court of Justice has already ruled in favour of the Commission's position in a 1998 judgement responding to a request by a Dutch court (ENDS Daily 26 June 1998). The Commission's decision to launch court action against Luxembourg follows announcement of a final legal warning in April (ENDS Daily 17 April).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and press release.

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