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Greece and Portugal could face cash penalties over green law failures; other states given court warnings

December 9, 2008

Greece and Portugal could face cash penalties over green law failures; other states given court warnings

Greece and Portugal could be handed EU fines if they continue to disobey EU environmental law despite European court orders to comply with it, the European commission has warned. The warning was made on Thursday as the commission issued its latest round of infringement proceedings against member states.

The standards set in the 1991 directive on urban wastewater has pressured Greece to comply with. Last year Athens was condemned for failing to meet the standards in 23 “agglomerations”. Twelve of them are still not in compliance, the commission says. Greece is also facing a trip to the EU court over an illegal landfill site in western Attica.

Portugal is being threatened with fines for failing to comply with a 2005 court ruling requiring it to meet EU drinking water standards. “It is unacceptable that after so much time Portugal has still not ensured that drinking is safe throughout the country”, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

Spain is to receive a final warning before being taken to court for two breaches of EU urban wastewater law. Failures to meet standards in this area are among the most serious law implementation problems. Madrid has also been warned over mining activities inside a protected area. In 2006 the local authority imposed a large fine on a firm operating in the area.

Bulgaria is being sent a final warning for failing to fully implement the EU waste framework directive. Sofia is also being warned over several construction projects, including a wind farm, which the commission says are in infringement of EU environmental impact assessment rules.

Luxembourg has faced a trip to EU court for failing to transpose the 2002 energy performance of buildings directive. The member state recognises it has only partially written the directive into national law, according to the commission.

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