Thursday September 28, 2023
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Brussels threatens EU countries with fines for lax approach to environmental pollution

The European Commission is threatening to take six EU countries to the highest EU court because they do not do enough about soil and air pollution.

For example, Ireland threatens to incur a EU fine because it has not correctly transposed the Water Framework Directive into national law. For other countries, lawsuits threaten for failure to prevent invasive alien plant species from affecting European nature.

The legal proceedings now underway are partly a result of the new rules in the European agricultural policy and in the biodiversity policy, as they have also been incorporated in the new food strategy. Even before the Green Deal and the Climate Policy, the EU stipulated that Member States must reduce groundwater pollution.

At the end of last year, the European Commission decided that the Netherlands may no longer make use of the manure derogation in phases because it has done too little against the nitrate pollution of soil water.

European environmental policy is set at EU level, but control and enforcement must be done by the Member States themselves. Earlier, Germany had to drastically limit the spreading of manure under pressure from threatening EU million fines.

Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Latvia are now also being criticized for not implementing the EU rules enough. The EU Water Directive aims to protect surface waters from further deterioration and pollution. It also requires ecosystems and resources to be protected and enhanced. The EU guideline states that all waters will achieve good status in ieder case by 2027 at the latest. 

According to the Commission, Ireland and the five other Member States have not drawn up an action plan to tackle the introduction and spread of non-native plant species. In addition, Estonia needs to take measures to better manage its Natura 2000 gebiTP3Tn and to fulfill the obligations of the Habitats Directive. 

Despite the progress made in several EU countries, the Commission said that the now-defendant countries had not fully addressed the earlier European criticisms with the adequate action plans.

Bulgaria and Slovakia also have to fear fines because they delay with European rules for making their energy more sustainable. The European Commission is taking both countries to the European Court of Justice and demanding “financial sanctions”. The two countries have not yet introduced any part of the EU legislation for renewable energy such as wind and solar energy.

None of the 27 Member States has introduced all parts of that energy directive on time, but Bulgaria and Slovakia are making it very colorful, according to Brussels. After several warnings, the daily EU board is now going to the European court. It can impose fines and penalty payments.


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