Barrage of EU law infringement actions goes on

Latest announcements cover laws on waste, water, environmental reporting, PCB disposal

The European Commission has rounded off the week by announcing its intention to take a further series legal actions against EU countries for failing to comply with European environmental laws. The barrage of new proceedings has now been kept up for almost ten days without a break, and more announcements are still expected next week.

In three separate statements released today, the Commission announced legal actions against nine EU countries over failure to comply variously with the waste framework directive, the bathing water directive and the environmental reporting directive.

Yesterday it announced court action against five countries over an EU directive on the disposal of PCBs.

* The Commission is taking action against nine countries judged to be in breach of three different provisions of the 1991 environmental reporting directive (91/692). This standardises reports on the implementation of environmental directives.

Court cases are to be launched against BELGIUM and PORTUGAL, while a reasoned opinion (final warning) is to be sent to SPAIN, for failing to provide satisfactory water reports which were due by September 1996. Meanwhile, ITALY, GREECE, PORTUGAL, SPAIN and the NETHERLANDS are to receive formal notices (first warnings) for being late in reporting on the implementation of waste legislation for the years 1995 to 1997.

Thirdly, a number of countries have not reported on the 1993 supervision and control of shipments of waste directive (93/259). Reports should be prepared before the end of each calendar year in accordance with the Basel convention, which regulates international trade in hazardous wastes. The Commission is then required to prepare an EU wide report on implementation of the regulation.

* The Commission is to launch court actions against PORTUGAL and FINLAND for not respecting the 1976 bathing water directive (76/160). In PORTUGAL around 10% of coastal waters and nearly 90% of inland waters do not meet the quality standards in the directive and monitoring is inadequate. FINLAND has four sites in the province of Aland where the water is not clean enough and is inadequately monitored.

* IRELAND is to be sent reasoned opinions after the Commission decided that the licensing and illegal disposal provision of the 1975 framework waste directive (75/442) were not being met. In one case the Commission disagrees with a decision by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency to class the dumping of demolition waste as recycling or reclamation.

* GERMANY, GREECE, SPAIN, PORTUGAL and the UNITED KINGDOM all face court action after failing to adopt and implement the 1996 directive which governs the disposal of PCBs (96/59). The directive aims to streamline legislation for decontamination or disposal of PCB-containing equipment and the disposal of used PCBs. The Commission issued reasoned opinions at the end of last year pressing for implementation that should have been completed by last March (ENDS Daily 22 December 1998).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111. References: Press notices dated 15/7/99 and 16/7/99 for all mentioned cases can be found on Rapid.

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