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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission urges Germany to comply with EU waste legislation

Brussels, 26 January 2012 – The European Commission is taking action against Germany for failing to meet the deadline for transposing the Waste Framework Directive into national law, which should have been in place since 12 December 2010. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending Germany a reasoned opinion. If Germany fails to adopt and communicate the necessary legislation within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice and ask for 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 Germany did not notify the Commission of all the implementing measures in time, a letter of formal notice was sent on 27 January 2011. Since the legislation has still not been adopted, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion.

Since 2011, 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 amount of waste created in the EU is rising constantly, with 3 billion tonnes of waste generated each year, generating considerable problems for the environment and harmful effects on human health. The Waste Framework Directive aims to decouple economic growth from waste generation and sets a legal framework for waste treatment within the EU including targets. There is significant economic potential of dealing with waste in a better way. 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 13 cases (including Germany) remain open and are at the reasoned opinion stage: see IP/11/595 (n.b. the cases against France and Latvia have now been closed), IP/11/724, IP/11/1103 and IP/11/1268.

Further information:

EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC

For current statistics on infringements in general:

See also:

More details on EU waste policy:


Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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