EU accuses Ireland of "non-cooperation"

Commission starts legal action for failure to respond to requests for environmental information

The European Commission today announced the start of an unusual legal action against Ireland, alleging repeated failure to cooperate with requests for information on environmental issues. Article 10 of the EU treaty requests member states to "actively cooperate" with the Commission in dealing with complaints over the implementation of EU laws. Following an EU-wide review, the Commission says that the picture is generally good, while Ireland has failed to provide requested information in seven cases related to EU environmental laws. In some of these, it says, no response has been received more than nine months after a request for information was made, whereas the standard delay allowed for is two months. Though the Commission acknowledges that the complaints it lists "clearly raise local issues," it claims that they are part of a wider picture. This includes Ireland's "generally unsatisfactory implementation" of the EU birds and habitats directives, its standards of waste management, its application of environmental impact assessment to environmentally significant projects and its criteria for applying the urban waste water directive to settlements. The announcement has been welcomed by Friends of the Irish Environment, an environmental group that made several of the complaints mentioned by the Commission. Spokesperson Tony Lowes claimed that Ireland's economic boom was running far ahead of the country's infrastructure capacity. "You get ahead in the Dublin Corporation and the Department of the Environment by laughing at European law," he alleged.

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