Commission pursues states over green directives

Twelve governments warned on urban wastewater, waste oils, sulphur in liquid fuels

The European Commission today announced court action against Spain and a broadside of warning letters to twelve EU member states concerning alleged failures to comply with three environmental directives. EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström said the actions were a clear illustration of her emphasis on "ensuring that existing environmental legislation is enforced properly rather than creating new [laws]".

* Urban wastewater treatment:

Topping today's bill is an announcement of court action against Spain for failure to properly identify all sensitive areas in need of stricter wastewater treatment limits. France, Germany and the UK are to receive final warnings (reasoned opinions) for the same reason. The actions add bite a "naming and shaming" event organised by Ms Wallström last month on gaps in implementation of the directive (ENDS Daily 20 March).

* Waste oils management:

First warning letters are to be sent to nine member states that the Commission alleges have failed to prioritise regeneration of waste oils over disposal under the terms of the 1975 waste oils directive. The Commission bases its allegations on a precedent-setting 1999 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ENDS Daily 9 September 1999).

Regarding France, Denmark, Belgium, the UK and Finland, the complaint relates only to the degree of priority accorded to regeneration. Warnings to Austria, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands will include additional allegations of non-conformity with the directive. These relate to emission limit values for waste oil incineration plants, inspection procedures and rules on the maintenance of records by companies producing, collecting or disposing of waste oils.

* Sulphur content in liquid fuels:

Final warnings will be sent to Greece, Italy and Spain regarding alleged failures to adopt the 1999 directive on sulphur content in liquid fuels by the July 2000 deadline. First warning letters were sent in November but only Spain has responded, says the Commission.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and press releases on urban wastewater, waste oils, and sulphur content in liquid fuels.

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