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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission prompts Belgium and Romania to comply with the EU Waste Framework Directive

Brussels, 29 September – The European Commission is taking action against Belgium and Romania as they did not meet the 2010 deadline to transpose the EU Waste framework legislation into national law. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending the Member States a Reasoned Opinion and asking them to comply within two months. If they fail to do so, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice and ask for immediate financial penalties.

The EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC sets the legal framework for waste treatment in the EU. It introduces waste management principles such as the "polluter pays principle" and lays down a binding hierarchy for managing waste. Member States are to prioritise prevention, followed by, reuse, recycling, and other recovery, with disposal as the least favoured option.

Member States had to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive by 12 December 2010. As Belgium and Romania did not notify the Commission of all the implementing measures in time, a letter of formal notice was sent. Romania informed the Commission that it would comply by April 2011. Regions in Belgium have only planned to comply by November 2011 (Flanders & Wallonia) and January 2012 (Brussels Capital). Since the legislation has still not been adopted in either Member State, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion.

Under a new policy, when Member States fail to transpose EU legislation into national law within the required deadline, the Commission may ask the Court for financial sanctions to be imposed at the first referral to court, without having to return to the Court for a second ruling. This policy was adopted in November 2010 and entered into force on 15 January 2011.


The amount of waste created in the EU is rising constantly, with 3 billion tonnes of waste generated each year. The Waste Framework Directive aims to decouple economic growth from waste generation and sets a legal framework for waste treatment within the EU. The purpose is to protect the environment and human health through the prevention of the harmful effects of waste generation and waste management.

In January 2011, the Commission opened infringement proceedings against 23 Member States for non-compliance with the Waste Framework Directive. Of the original 23 cases, 16 remain open, of which 13 (including Belgium and Romania) are now at the Reasoned Opinion stage (see IP/11/595 and IP/11/724).

Further information

EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC

See also

More details on EU waste policy:

For current statistics on infringements in general:

See also MEMO/11/646

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 295 06 68)

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