European Commission announces legal action against four countries over environmental standards
France, Greece, Spain and Luxembourg face legal action by the European Commission over either failure to apply EU standards on waste disposal, breaching environmental impact rules on new projects, or both.
On 25 July the Commission announced legal action against France and Greece ‘for their failure to correctly apply Community standards to a Greek landfill and to a number of incinerators in France.’
Greece has been referred to the European Court of Justice for ignoring earlier warning letters from the European Commission over a landfill site in Epitalie in the Pelopenese, which is operating without proper authorisation and is damaging the local environment. The announcement came just three weeks after a recent landmark judgement by the European Court of Justice against the country, the first EU nation to be fined for failing to comply with EU law (see related story). Following that ruling Greece must pay 24,600 Euros (£15,000) per day for the high level of dioxins at a landfill site at Kouroupitos in Crete, until it off complies with EU law.
France faces action over seven incinerators in the north-west, which do not comply with the standards set out in the new and previous Municipal Waste Incinerators Directives.
Commenting on the decision, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said, “Member States must ensure that their landfills and incinerators meet the Community standards so that citizens living close to these facilities can have confidence they are being operated correctly.”
In a separate statement, the Commission announced Spain, Greece and Luxembourg’s failure ‘to adopt and communicate to the Commission national laws’ giving effect to a 1997 amendment to the 1985 Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the deadline for which expired in March 1999. The Directive and its amendment require Member States to conduct an environmental impact assessment of a wide range of private and public projects before they are authorised.
“The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive is central to wise decisions on the environment. The Commission is working hard to ensure that not only are the required national laws put into place but that the impact assessment procedure is also respected in practice,” Wallström said.
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