Waste laws non-compliance: Case C-494/01 Commission v Ireland

Judgement was given in the above case on 26 April 2005. The case concerned alleged instances of non-compliance with the EU waste laws following twelve complaints received by the Commission against Ireland.

Initially three complaints were lodged, relating to the dumping of construction and demolition waste on wetlands, the storage of organic waste in lagoons and its subsequent disposal on land without the relevant permit, and finally the storage of waste by a private operator, again without the relevant permit. A reasoned opinion was issued by the Commission to Ireland on 14 July 1999 on the basis of these complaints and asking Ireland to take the measures necessary to comply with Articles 4, 9 and 10 of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) (Directive 75/442/EEC). However, in its response, Ireland denied that it had failed to fulfil its obligations under the waste framework directive.

Following this, five further complaints were received by the Commission against Ireland in respect of the operation of a number of landfills without the relevant permits and the dumping of waste. Another formal notice was sent to Ireland on the basis of this though was subsequently recalled when a further four complaints were received against Ireland, bringing the total number of complaints against Ireland to twelve. By way of a reasoned opinion issued to Ireland on 26 July 2001, Ireland was therefore asked to comply with Articles 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 14 of the WFD. Ireland failed to comply within the timescales set thus necessitating the action to be brought before the court.

The European Court of Justice has upheld all the complaints of non-compliance and found Ireland to be in breach of all the above mentioned Articles of the WFD. At the same time, by failing to respond to a request for information in relation to certain waste operations, Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 10 EC, which requires Member States to co-operate in good faith with the inquiries of the Commission.

Finally, within the lengthy judgement of the ECJ, in respect of the findings of the court in relation to Article 8, it is worthy to note that the Court refers to the case of Van de Walle and Others (Case C-1/03) and finds that the obligations under Article 8 of the Directive are the “corollary to the prohibition on the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled disposal of waste laide down in the second paragraph of Article 4 of the Directive”.

For full details see: Curia

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