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European Commission - Press release

Infringements: Waste: Commission refers Italy to Court over failure to rehabilitate or close down 44 landfills

Brussels, 17 May 2017

The European Commission is taking Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to rehabilitate or close down 44 landfills, which represent a serious risk for human health and the environment.

Despite earlier warnings from the Commission, Italy has failed to take measures to rehabilitate or close down 44 non-compliant landfills, as required by article 14 of the Landfill Directive (Council Directive 1999/31/EC). Like other Member States, Italy was obliged, by 16 July 2009, to either rehabilitate landfills that had been granted a permit or which were already in operation before 16 July 2001 ("existing landfills"), bringing them to the safety standards set out in this Directive, or to close them.

Due to insufficient progress in addressing the issue, the Commission sent an additional reasoned opinion in June 2015, urging Italy to adequately treat 50 sites, which still posed a threat to human health and the environment. In spite of some progress made, the necessary measures to upgrade or close 44 landfills have still not been completed by May 2017. In an effort to speed up the process, the Commission is taking Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Background

Under EU law, Member States must recover and dispose of waste in a manner that does not endanger human health and the environment, prohibiting the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled disposal of waste. Only safe and controlled landfill activities should be carried out in Europe. The Landfill Directive (Council Directive 1999/31/EC) lays down standards to protect human health and the environment, in particular surface water, groundwater, soil and air, from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste. It aims to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects of landfilling of waste over the whole life-cycle of landfills.

There are many different ways of disposing of waste. Burying it in the ground, known as "landfilling", is the least environmentally sustainable and should be kept to the absolute minimum.

This case is part of a horizontal exercise, which concerns six other Member States: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. The Court has issued already judgements condemning Bulgaria, Cyprus and Spain.

For More Information

-  General information on infringements proceedings in the areas of Environment.

-  On the overview of implementation of EU environment policies and laws in Member States, see Environmental Implementation Review.

-On the key decisions in the May 2017 infringements package, see full MEMO/17/1280.

-On the May infringements package (on letters of formal notices only), see full MEMO/17/1281.

-On the general infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12(and info graph).

-On the EU infringements procedure.

IP/17/1283


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