Brussels, 25 September 2014
Environment: European Commission asks Court to fine Greece for inadequate management of hazardous waste
The European Commission is referring Greece back to the European Court of Justice for poor treatment of hazardous waste. Five years after the first ruling, Greece is still failing to comply with EU standards. The Commission is therefore asking the Court to impose fines, proposing a lump sum of EUR 14 904 736 and a daily penalty payment of EUR 72 864 until the obligations are fulfilled.
Hazardous waste must not be mixed with other waste streams as it poses a greater risk to the environment and human health than non-hazardous waste. It therefore requires a stricter control regime. The 2009 ruling noted the absence of a management plan to deal with various types of hazardous waste, such as medical waste and chemicals, which persist in the environment for a long time and are likely to cause cancer (polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and polychloroterphenyls (PCTs).
In order to comply, Greece has:
Greece was expected to comply in full in 2013. However, the first step necessary to solve the problem, the adoption of an adequate national management plan for hazardous waste, has still not been taken and to date the Commission has not received any credible calendar of compliance.
On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore taking Greece back to the EU Court of Justice and asking for fines.
Hazardous wastes pose a greater risk to the environment and human health than non- hazardous wastes and thus require a stricter control regime, as described in Articles 17 to 20 of the Waste Framework Directive. Requirements include additional labelling, record keeping, monitoring and control obligations from the "cradle to the grave", i.e., from the waste producer to the final disposal or recovery. Hazardous waste must not be mixed with other waste in order to prevent risks for the environment and human health. The permit exemptions that may be granted to installations dealing with hazardous wastes are more restrictive than for installations dealing with other wastes.
The classification into hazardous and non-hazardous waste is based on the system for the classification and labelling of dangerous substances and preparations, which ensures the application of similar principles over their whole life cycle. The properties which render waste hazardous are laid down in Annex III of Directive 2008/98/EC and are further specified by the Decision 2000/532/EC establishing a List of Wastes as last amended by Decision 2001/573/EC.
For more information:
On EU waste legislation in general:
On implementation of Community environmental legislation:
On this month's infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/537
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12
For more information on infringement procedures: