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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission asks Slovakia to comply with EU legislation on strategic environmental impact assessments and packaging waste

Brussels, 22 March 2012 – The European Commission is sending Slovakia two reasoned opinions about its environmental legislation. The first concerns impact assessments, as the Commission is concerned that the potential environmental effects of the 2007-2010 road-building programme in Slovakia were not assessed as required by EU law. The second issue concerns a failure to transpose legislation on packaging and packaging waste. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore sending two reasoned opinions. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

Slovakia failed to carry out the environmental assessment required by the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive for its “Programme of Preparation and Construction of Motorways and Highways in 2007–2010”. The Commission sent a Letter of Formal Notice on 25 November 2010. Slovakia claimed that the programme has the character of financial or budgetary programme, and does not therefore fall under the scope of the Directive. According to the Commission's assessment, although the Programme does contain financial and budgetary elements, it also contains measures which clearly have a significant effect on the environment. The Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion, giving Slovakia two months to reply.

Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste aims to prevent and reduce the volume of packaging and packaging waste. According to the information available to the Commission, Slovakia has not yet transposed correctly several provisions of the Directive. Slovak legislation does not sufficiently encourage the recycling and the use of recycled materials, and nor does it prioritise energy recovery when it is preferable to material recycling for environmental and cost-benefit reasons. In addition, Slovak law contains some provisions that restrict competition in relation to packaging and packaging waste. The Commission sent Slovakia a letter of formal notice on 25 November 2010. Slovakia has agreed to amend its domestic law but the Commission has concerns about the pace of change and is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.

Background

Under Directive 2001/42/EC on Strategic Environmental Assessment, plans and programmes made by authorities at national, regional and local levels, and which are likely to have significant effects on the environment, are required to undergo an environmental impact assessment. This enables environmental considerations to be integrated into the preparation and adoption of these plans and programmes, while also contributing to sustainable development.

The environmental assessment takes place during the preparation of such plans and before their adoption. It includes an environmental report detailing the likely significant environmental effects and reasonable alternatives, and consultations with the public, authorities responsible for environmental issues, and with other Member States if significant cross-border effects are likely.

The packaging Directive aims to prevent and reduce packaging and packaging waste. It requires Member States to prevent the formation of packaging waste, to ensure that the weight and volume of packaging placed on the market is limited to the minimum, and to develop packaging reuse systems reducing their impact on the environment. It also introduces recovery and recycling targets for glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastics and wood packaging. It covers all packaging throughout the production and consumption chain. Infringement proceedings against Poland and France are also at the reasoned opinion stage for this directive (see respectively IP/11/1275) and IP/12/67).

Further information:

For current statistics on infringements in general:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm

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

More details on EU packaging and packaging waste policy:

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/waste_management/l21207_en.htm

More details on environmental assessment policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eia/home.htm

See also MEMO/12/200

Contacts :

Robert Flies (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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