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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission takes Poland to Court over air quality and marine policy legislation and urges compliance with the Nitrates Directive

Brussels, 24 November 2011 – The European Commission is referring Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union and asking for financial penalties to be imposed for two failures to transpose EU legislation into national law. Despite earlier warnings, Poland has failed to notify the Commission about the transposition of legislation on the Ambient Air Quality Directive, which should have been in place since 11 June 2010, and about a strategy to protect its seas, which should have been in place since 15 July 2010. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is asking the Court to impose penalty payments. The penalty payments requested are 71,521€ per day for the Ambient Air Quality Directive, and 59,834€ per day in the case of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The penalties take into account the seriousness and duration of the infringements. They consist of daily penalty payments to be paid from the date of the judgment (assuming that there is no compliance by then) until transposition is completed.

Under a new EU 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.

The Commission is also sending Poland a reasoned opinion about inadequate action programmes for zones vulnerable to nitrate pollution. The Commission is of the opinion that Poland has not yet designated all the zones which are vulnerable to nitrates pollution. If Poland fails to comply within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Ambient Air Quality

Directive 2008/50/EC on Ambient Air Quality and cleaner air for Europe sets standards and target dates for reducing concentrations of fine particles which, together with coarser particles known as PM10 that are already subject to legislation, are highly dangerous pollutants for human health.

As the Polish authorities did not send the Commission transposing measures for the Directive by 11 June 2010, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice on 16 July 2010 and a reasoned opinion on 16 February 2011. Poland informed the Commission it was drafting the main transposing measure but as the law has still not been adopted, the Commission is taking Poland to the Court of Justice.

Marine Strategy Directive

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive aims to achieve environmentally healthy marine waters for Europe by 2020. It requires Member States to implement marine strategies with targets, indicators and monitoring programmes. The programmes must be drawn up by 2015 to attain good environmental status by 2020.

The Polish authorities failed to communicate to the Commission transposing measures for the Directive by the 15 July 2010 deadline. The Commission therefore sent a letter of formal notice, followed by a reasoned opinion on 17 February 2011. As all the transposing measures have still not been adopted, the Commission is taking Poland to the Court of Justice.

Water pollution by nitrates

The Nitrates Directive aims to protect water quality across Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices. Member States have to adopt measures to reduce and prevent pollution by nitrates in zones that are vulnerable to nitrate pollution, with for instance closed periods when manure and chemical fertilizers cannot be spread, provide sufficient capacity for storing manure when it cannot be spread, and limitations on fertilizer application.

Although legislation should have been in place since Poland's accession to the EU in 2004, Polish laws still contain numerous shortcomings in this area. Poland has not identified and as a consequence not designated to a sufficient extent nitrate vulnerable zones, and action programmes still fail to comply fully with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive.

Further information

More information on the Nitrates Directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-nitrates/index_en.html

More details on the air quality policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/index.htm

More details on marine environment policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/e nvironment/water/marine/index_en.htm

More details on water policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/index_en.htm

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/legal/implementation_en.htm

See also:

MEMO/11/824

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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