States taken to task over EU green rules
Four EU member states were today put firmly on track to be condemned in the European court of justice for failing to comply with environmental rules. Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Luxembourg are in the dock in relation to EU rules on waste oils management, environmental impact assessment of major projects, wild birds and habitats protection, and marketing of biocidal products. All the cases were brought by the European Commission.
Advocate general Christine Stix-Hackl backs complaints brought against Portugal regarding its implementation of the 1975 EU directive on management of waste oils. The case was launched over three years ago (ED 11/12/98).
Specifically, Ms Stix-Hackl agrees with the Commission that Portugal has failed: a) before granting permits to ensure that companies regenerating or combusting waste oils are using best available technology and ensuring appropriate health protection; b) to ensure that authorisation is required to dispose of waste oil combusion residues; c) to carry out periodic checks on companies managing waste oils, or d) to communicate officially on experience with implementing the directive.
Spain is charged with defective implementation of the 1987 directive on environmental impact assessment of major projects, and specifically for failing to require assessments for many classes of projects listed in the directive. Advocate general Leendert Geelhoed agrees with the Commission\'s complaints, which it has maintained despite passage in 2000 of a new Spanish law filling this legal void (ED 09/10/00).
The lawsuit against Ireland concerns alleged failure to ensure sufficient protection for the Red Grouse, and an important area of natural habitat called the Owenduff-Nephin Beg complex. In his opinion, court advocate general Philippe Léger rejects counter-arguments submitted by Ireland and recommends condemnation for breach of both the 1979 wild birds directive and the 1992 habitats directive. The court action was announced by the Commission over two years ago (ED 06/01/00).
Finally, advocate general Francis Jacobs agrees with the Commission that Luxembourg should be condemned for failing to adopt and communicate measures to transpose the 1998 biocides directive by the deadline of 13 May 2000. Last year, a majority of member states were warned of possible legal action by the Commission for the same failing (ED 13/02/01), but this is the only case so far to have reached such an advanced stage.
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