Put pollution laws on the books – 8 states warned

Eight EU states, including the UK, have been told to implement laws on shipping pollution agreed two years ago, or face legal action in Europe's courts.

The other seven countries yet to transpose the EU directive into their national statue books are Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Malta, Portugal and landlocked Luxembourg.

The directive was agreed by member states in September 2005 and sets new penalties for pollution by ships, aiming to improve maritime safety and protect the marine environment.

It takes international standards on ship source pollution beyond a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ and writes them into community law.

It looks at polluting discharges that occur through intent, recklessness or serious negligence and requires that ‘adequate penalties’ be imposed on anyone responsible for such incidents.

The Commission has now sent reasoned opinions to the governments of each of the eight states – the last step before a court summons in the Byzantine EU legal process.

Those states which fail to act on the warning will have to defend their decision before the European Court of Justice in the new year, explaining why the laws have not been adopted.

Sam Bond

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