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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission asks Court to impose financial penalties on four Member States, urges Belgium to comply with EU waste legislation

Brussels, 26 April 2012 – The European Commission is referring Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to the EU Court of Justice for failing to meet the December 2010 deadline to transpose the EU's Waste Framework Directive into national law. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the European Commission is asking the Court to impose penalty payments on the four countries in question.

In parallel, Belgium is receiving an additional reasoned opinion for its failure to notify the Commission of its transposition of the same Directive. If Belgium fails to adopt and communicate the necessary legislation within two months, the Commission may also refer the case to the EU Court of Justice and ask for financial penalties.

The financial penalty payments requested are as follows:

Bulgaria: 15 220 € per day

Hungary: 27 316 € per day

Poland: 67314 € per day

Slovakia: 17 136 € per day

If 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 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 the countries are still not compliant – until transposition is completed.

The Commission sent letters of formal notice to the Member States concerned on 27 January 2011. Reasoned opinions were sent to Belgium on 30 September 2011, Hungary and Slovakia on 20 May 2011, and Bulgaria and Poland on 16 June 2011.

Background

The amount of waste created in the EU is rising constantly, with 3 billion tonnes of waste generated each year, creating harmful effects on human health and considerable problems for the environment.

The EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC aims to decouple economic growth from waste generation and establishes a legal framework for waste treatment within the EU, including targets. 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.

Better handling of waste has significant economic potential: implementing current legislation will lead to lower costs and more job creation in the waste sector (see

IP/12/18).

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, today only 6 cases remain open: see IP/11/595, IP/11/724, IP/11/1103 and IP/11/1268. These include the above-mentioned Member States and also Germany who received a reasoned opinion on 26 January 2012 (see IP/12/71).

Further information:

EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC

For current statistics on infringements in general:

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

See also: MEMO/12/279

See also:

More details on EU waste policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/index.htm

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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