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01/10/2016

Commission takes Germany to task over water pollution

Climate & Environment

Commission takes Germany to task over water pollution

German ground and surface water contains high levels of nitrates.

[anne arnould/Flickr]

Brussels has announced that it will prosecute Germany in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for failing to take effective measures against water pollution caused by nitrates. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

“The latest figures submitted by Germany in 2012 and several recent reports from the German authorities show worsening nitrate pollution in groundwater and surface waters, including the Baltic Sea,” the Commission stated in a press release on Thursday (28 April).

Despite these observations – which led to the country being cautioned in 2014 – Germany is accused of not having taken “sufficient additional measures to effectively address nitrates pollution and revise its relevant legislation to comply with the EU rules”.

And the European executive judged Berlin’s revised national strategy to be insufficient.

Intensive agriculture

In September 2015, the French General Council of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CGEDD) and General Council for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas (CGAAER) had put together a report analysing the implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive by six member states.

The report closely linked intensive agriculture with excessive nitrate pollution.

France was also the subject of a CJEU infringement procedure filed in September 2014 for the poor implementation of the Nitrates Directive, and has since changed its regulations for the use of these chemicals.

Manuel Valls wants EU nitrates directive 'to evolve'

Nitrate pollution remains a major problem in France due to its intensive agriculture. The French Prime Minister has resolved to take action, after a new indictment of France by the Court of Justice of the European Union last week.

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A further change in the French law is due to be published soon, which the country’s environmental authority has harshly criticised, saying “the changes look to be motivated more by the necessity to respond in detail to all the points of the CJEU judgement than any ambition to restore ecosystems that have been damaged by nitrates”.

France faces fine over nitrates pollution

The European Commission referred France to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over nitrate pollution of surface water in Brittany on 27 June 2007, amid concerns that the EU is nevertheless still supporting intensive farming in the region.

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