The European Parliament yesterday (3 February) urged the European Commission to strictly implement a Court of Justice ruling on the waste crisis in Campania, saying that Italy must comply with EU rules before funds can be released.

Structural funds currently withheld by the European Commission should be freed only once a regional strategy to solve the crisis is consistent with EU provisions, say MEPs.

They also call on regional authorities to present "a credible waste management plan". 

The Commission is currently analysing draft proposals handed in by Italy and will decide on a further course of action by the end of February.

The waste management crisis in southern Italy has been an ongoing issue for almost two decades. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on the matter in March 2010.

Yesterday's resolution was put forward jointly by the liberals (ALDE), the leftists (GUE/NGL), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and the Greens/European Free Alliance groups.

Most opposition to the resolution came from the centre-right group of the European People's Party (EPP), but the text was adopted with 374 votes against 208.

Italian MEPs Crescenzio Rivellini and Erminia Mazzoni (EPP) made an intervention and tabled an oral amendment: just one of a total of 17 amendments proposed by the EPP, none of which went through.

Rivellini also blamed the Italian left for the waste crisis, as its last climax in 2007 occurred under socialist rule.

At previous discussions of this issue, Italian S&D members had been worried about such accusations, which were first made by Italy's Popolo della Libertà party. The party is currently in government and will therefore have to deal with the crisis.

Popolo della Libertà's chairman is Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister and media tycoon. Fears of getting bad press meant it was difficult to come to an agreement between Italian S&D members and the other delegations.

Nonetheless, the resolution makes several major demands. It calls upon the Commission to follow up on the ECJ ruling and to monitor the situation through "systematic inspections". Italy ought to adopt a waste management plan and put in place the necessary infrastructure to move towards waste prevention and recycling.

It advises against continuing the military supervision of landfills, which has alienated the public and "facilitated […] the increased involvement of organised crime" in the waste management process.

The European Parliament argued that financial penalties could be used if the Italian government does not comply with EU rules and misses the deadline set by the Commission.

MEPs also called for strict monitoring to avoid to open landfills in protected areas, like those built within the Vesuvius National Park. The resolution demands that the Commission should "amend EU waste legislation so as to categorically prohibit landfills in Natura 2000 sites".