The UK has been pulled up by the European Commission for its failure to transpose three Directives concerned with Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).A final written warning has therefore been sent to the UK for its failure to bring in the necessary laws to ensure transposition of the WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC), its amending Directive (Directive 2003/108/EC) and the Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electronic and Electrical Equipment (RoHS) (Directive 2002/95/EC).
These should have been implemented by 13 August 2004, however the UK has failed to transpose all three Directives and is therefore facing infringement action by the Commission.
Should the UK now fail to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the case may end up before the European Court of Justice.
The UK is also one of 11 Member States to have been issued with a Reasoned Opinion by the European Commission for failure to transpose Directive 2002/49/EC on the assessment and management of environmental noise.
The Environmental Noise Directive was due to have been transposed into the national laws of Member States by 18 July 2004, requiring Member States to use common methods in order to map out noise 'hot spots' using "strategic noise maps" and implement action plans at the local level to reduce noise where necessary and maintain environmental noise quality where it is good.
The public were also to be informed and consulted about noise exposure, its effects and measures considered to address noise. However the UK along with 10 other Member States has failed to transpose the Directive. If the UK now fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the European Court of Justice.
The European Commission has also announced legal action against a number of Member States for failure to transpose the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive (Directive 2001/42/EC) and the Directive on Public Access to Information (Directive 2003/4/EC).
The Access to Environmental Information Directive should have been transposed by 14 February 2005 while the SEA Directive was due to be transposed by 21 July 2004.
As all the Member States concerned have now been issued with a final written warning, if compliance is not achieved within the deadlines set, cases may be brought before the European Court of Justice.
Reasoned opinions have been sent by the European Commission to 9 Member States for failure to implement the Directive 2003/30/EC on the promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport (the Biofuels Directive).
During 2004, Member States were to transpose the Directive and send the Commission a national report by 1 July 2005.
Within this Member States were to provide an indicative target for the share of the petrol and diesel market that will be taken by biofuels at the end of 2005.
Member States were also to explain any difference between this target and the 2% "reference value" in the Directive.
However Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia have all failed to fulfil one or more of these obligations despite formal notices having been issued to each country earlier in the year.
For those Member States which have submitted their national reports, the Commission, has also questioned a number of these as several Member States have deviated from the 'reference value' of 2% and not given adequate reasons for this.
The European Commission is pursuing legal action against Italy for a total of 17 cases involving breaches of environmental laws.
Five cases relate to waste management legislation, with two warnings being issued to Italy for failure to comply with judgements of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in cases C-103/02 and C-383-02 concerning the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 75/442/EEC).
The other three waste cases saw Italy being referred to the ECJ over its legislation on end of life vehicles (ELVs), and final written warnings being issued for failure to provide waste management plans and failing to notify the Commission of legislation implementing the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC).
Further legal steps have also been taken by the Commission with regard to nature protection laws, one case being referred to the ECJ for breach of the Birds Directive (Directive 79/409/EEC), and three final written warnings being sent for breaches of both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC).
The remaining cases concern breaches of European laws on environmental impact assessment, air quality, noise and access to environmental information.
Finally, Italy has been pulled up for its lack of co-operation with the Commission, having consistently failed to respond to requests for information.