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European Commission urges Lithuania and Cyprus to comply with EU waste legislation

Petras Vaida, BC, Vilnius, 22.06.2012.Print version
Two Member States have not correctly interpreted or applied EU waste laws: Cyprus (for landfill) and Lithuania (for packaging waste), causing harm to human health and the environment, potentially creating barriers to trade and distorting competition, said.

On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the Commission is referring Cyprus to the European Court of Justice and sending Lithuania a reasoned opinion, requesting amendments to its national legislation. If Lithuania fails to reply within two months, the Commission may also refer their case to the Court, informs LETA/ELTA.


The EU Landfill Directive is intended to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health. Under the Directive, existing landfills must meet certain conditions in order to continue to operate.


In Cyprus several landfills have been found to be operating in violation of the directive. While progress has been made through the closure and rehabilitation of a number of landfills and the establishment of an adequate waste management system, six landfills continue to operate in breach of the EU legislation.


These landfills still absorb the waste generated by the municipalities of Nicosia and Limassol, as adequate waste infrastructure has yet to be built in these municipalities. The Commission sent a related reasoned opinion to Cyprus in January 2012, but the reply indicated full compliance is not expected before 2015. Consequently the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court.


The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive covers all packaging waste regardless of the material used, and is intended to reduce the volume of waste and encourage sustainable growth. As Lithuania had not correctly incorporated the Directive's provisions into national law, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice in May 2011.


Lithuania has since corrected the majority of instances of non-compliance, but one issue still needs to be properly reflected in its legislation: the requirement for packaging to comply with the relevant harmonised EU standards. This smoothens the functioning of the internal market by ensuring that packaging manufactured in one Member State can be used in another Member State without obstructions.


The Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.


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