EU green infringements charge continues

Commission steps up pressure on nine states over PCBs, targets Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, on water

The new year wave of infringement proceedings against European states for failing to comply with EU environmental laws continued today as the European Commission announced action against ten countries over four directives. All the actions were decided by commissioners late last year (ENDS Daily 19 January).

Six member states - Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Luxembourg - now face a trip to the European Court of Justice for alleged failures to comply with a 1996 directive on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and terphenyls (PCTs). The Commission began the action last year, complaining that only Finland had observed the directive (ENDS Daily 14 April 2000).

Germany, Denmark and Sweden will receive second warning letters giving notice of court action if measures to comply are not taken within two months, but the others have satisfied the Commission that they now comply or soon will do. The European Parliament recently highlighted member states' handling of PCBs as an example of the poor implementation of EU environmental law (ENDS Daily 18 January).

Ireland is singled out for poor implementation of EU water laws. The Commission is taking it to court over the 1976 "dangerous substances" directive, alleging failure to draw up pollution reduction programmes or to introduce water quality objectives for the presence of heavy metals and biocides, or to tackle phosphorous-enrichment. Local authorities and fish farming operations are also treated too leniently under national law, it says.

Ireland is to get a second warning (reasoned opinion) on a second charge of failing to designate nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs) under the 1991 nitrates directive, another law highlighted by the European parliament last week as being poorly implemented. Ireland is alone among member states in having not designated a single NVZ, the Commission says.

Finally, Belgium is to be sent a first warning over continued failure to comply with the 1976 bathing waters directive despite having been condemned for the breach by the European Court of Justice last spring (ENDS Daily 26 May 2000). The government could be fined should this new infringement procedure end in a second condemnation. Denmark is to be taken to court for breaching the same directive by failing to meet water quality limits, the Commission added.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and press releases on PCBs directive, actions against Ireland and bathing water directive.

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