EU states risk court action over biocide rules

Commission announces final warnings to 11 countries for failure to transpose 1998 directive

A majority of EU member states could face actions in the European Court of Justice unless they demonstrate within two months full transposition of the 1998 EU biocides directive into national law, it emerged yesterday. Eleven governments are to be sent reasoned opinions (final warnings), the European Commission announced. Only Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Italy are not being targeted.

The directive in question sets safety and environmental standards for biocides such as wood preservatives, disinfectants and non-agricultural pesticides and introduces a harmonised EU approval procedure for new biocidal products (ENDS Daily 14 January 1998). Member states should have transposed the law by May last year, though it quickly became clear that most had not met the deadline (ENDS Daily 20 June 2000).

All 11 countries targeted yesterday were sent first warning letters in August, the Commission confirmed yesterday. Only four responded - Germany, the UK, Spain and Finland - and none of them to the EU executive's satisfaction. France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Greece and Portugal failed to even respond.

* In a related development, the Commission today announced a decision to send a reasoned opinion to Spain for failure to undertake a proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a hazardous waste facility at Zuazo, near Bilbao, in breach of the EU's 1985 EIA directive.

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

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