Potential Future Legal Actions

The Commission wants to challenge a number of EU countries over climate change measures, and may take action against the UK over the way it deals with urban wastewater.

The European Commission has announced that it is taking infringement proceedings against a number of Member States in respect of their alleged failure to implement a number of items of EU climate change legislation. Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland are being formally rebuked by the Commission for having failed to establish a national registry in the form of a standardised electronic database as well as a communication link by 31 December 2004 under Regulation 2216/2004, which establishes the registries system. Austria, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland have been issued a second and final warning following their failure to communicate, by 15 March 2005, the policies and measures that they have taken and their impacts, or an assessment of future greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with Decision 280/2004/EC, which specifies the reporting obligations placed on Member States. Three of these Member States, plus Spain, have also failed to report by 15 January, their greenhouse gas emissions for 2004. Finally, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain have been issued with first warning letters due to their failure to submit the requisite information to enable the UN to determine their “assigned amount” of emissions for the period 2008-2012. The full Commission press release can be found at:

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The European Commission has also announced that it may take legal action against the UK regarding failures to implement the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The UK has been served with a final warning due to alleged breaches of the UWWT Directive, due to insufficient collection and treatment facilities having been installed within London, Torbay, Whitburn and Kilbarchan, resulting in untreated urban waste water being discharged directly into rivers or sea, causing pollution of the environment and health hazards. In each case, existing facilities offer insufficient capacity to deal with flows of urban waste water, with overflow systems being used. The frequency of overflows can in certain cases exceed 80 times per year, resulting in millions of cubic meters of untreated waste water being released. The UK received first written warnings for these violations in April 2003 (with respect to Torbay, Whitburn and Kilbarchan) and March 2005 (with respect to London). Following the second written warning having been issued, depending on the UK’s response, the case may ultimately end up before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

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