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Twelve EU member states face sanctions over Waste Directive

Europe – The European Commission is demanding that five more member states comply with the EU Waste Framework Directive. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece and Poland have failed to inform the Commission about the transposition of this legislation into their national laws. They should have done this before the end of last year.

On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the Commission is sending the lagging states a ‘reasoned opinion’. This follows infringement proceedings launched in January against 23 member states for non-compliance with the directive. Of the original 23 cases, 19 remain open, of which seven others (in addition to the five now announced) are also at the reasoned opinion stage.

The 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 waste hierarchy that requires member states to manage their waste in the following order of priority: prevention, reuse, recycling, other recovery and disposal.

Member states shoulded have brought into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive by 12 December 2010. Those that have not yet done so now have two months to comply.

If they still fail to act, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice and ask it to impose financial sanctions on first referral to the court, under new powers that came into force in January 2011.

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