Environment: Commission launches 36 infringement proceedings


Over 15 member states have been targeted in legal proceedings over non-compliance with environmental legislation, as the Commission steps up its effort to improve the implementation of EU law in this area.

On 17 October, the Commission sent warnings to member states failing to comply with EU law on various aspects of environmental legislation, including urban waste water treatment, environmental impact assessments, waste electrical and electronic equipment, the wild birds directive and air quality. 

Commenting on the 12 member states who failed to adopt emergency plans in the framework of the Directive on Major Industrial Accidents, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “I am dismayed to see that several years after its entry into force and after repeated warnings from the Commission, very few member states have adopted external emergency plans for all installations concerned.”

These member states, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Luxembourg, now have two months to comply with their obligation to present to the Commission emergency plans for the control of industrial accidents involving dangerous substances. 

Otherwise, the Commission can ask the Court of Justice to impose a financial penalty.

Eight member states have also failed to implement the directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment correctly, which needs to be transposed “as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of citizens,” according to Mr. Dimas.

In September 2007, the Commission issued a policy paper on the application of EU legislation and plans to issue a specific communication on the application of environmental law.

The EU executive aims to improve the implementation of EU law through:

  • More targeted, preventative measures aimed at supporting member states in the transposition and implementation of EU law;  
  • increasing transparency in the application and enforcement of EU law and facilitating more continuous decision-making on infringements so as to avoid congestion and allow cases to be taken forward as soon as they are ready;
  • more strategic planning of the implementation, management and enforcement of Community legislation and increased reviews of results between the Commission, Parliament and Council.

Last year, the Commission reported an improvement in the implementation of environmental legislation by member states (EURACTIV 22/09/06).

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