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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 21 February 2013

Environment: Commission takes Greece back to Court over illegal landfills and asks for fines

The European Commission is taking Greece back to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement an earlier ruling on illegal landfills. In 2005, the Court ruled that Greece was not taking sufficient measures to close down and rehabilitate illegal landfills, of which there were several hundred operating across the country. Eight years later, in view of insufficient progress since the ruling, the Commission is referring the case back to Court and, in line with established policy, suggesting a daily penalty payment of 71193 euros for each day after the second Court ruling until Greece complies with the judgment and a lump sum calculated on the basis of 7786 euros per day for the period between the first judgment and the day of compliance or the day of the second Court ruling.

Since the 2005 ruling, progress has been made by Greece through the closure and rehabilitation of many illegal landfills and the establishment of an adequate waste management system. The majority of these projects have been co-funded by the EU.

According to the initial calendar, all illegal landfills should have been closed and rehabilitated by the end of 2008. A letter of formal notice under article 260 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union was sent in April 2009, reminding Greece of its obligations.

However, according to the latest figures available to the Commission, some 78 illegal landfills continue to operate in violation of EU waste legislation and 318 are still in the process of being rehabilitated. The closure of illegal landfills is being delayed by the lack of alternative waste treatment facilities. The situation may become even worse since the Fyli landfill, which receives 90 % of the waste generated in the Athens region, is facing imminent saturation, and will have reached full capacity by the end of 2014. The Commission is therefore referring the case back to Court and requesting financial penalties. The financial penalties will be reduced every time landfills are closed and rehabilitated provided new ones are not created.

Background: waste legislation

Directive 99/31/EC on the landfill of waste is a key instrument to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill. According to the Landfill Directive, landfills must meet certain conditions in order to operate. The legislation aims to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste.

The Waste Framework Directive is a key instrument to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste. The Directive obliges Member States to dispose of waste without endangering human health and without harming the environment.

For more information:

For details about EU waste legislation in general, see:

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

See also:

On the February infringement package decisions, see MEMO/13/122

On the general infringement procedure, see also MEMO/12/12

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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