EC sues Romania for failing to adopt national measures on waste management and prevention

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The European Commission is taking Romania to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to review and adopt its national waste management plan and waste prevention programme, in line with the objectives of EU Waste Framework Directive and the circular economy.

Despite earlier warnings from the Commission, the Romanian authorities have failed to review and update their national waste management plan and waste prevention programme, says the EC in a press release on Thursday. This revision should have taken place at the latest by 2013. The Commission initiated the infringement procedure in September 2015 and sent a reasoned opinion to Romania in May 2016, urging the authorities to promptly adopt these core instruments required by the waste legislation.

The Commission has been checking the compliance with these obligations for all Member States. Infringement cases have been opened against several Member States such as Belgium, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, France, Spain and Slovenia. These cases are at different stages, and two of them have been closed (Slovenia and Croatia) following adoption of the appropriate plans and programmes.

The Waste Framework Directive aims to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste and by reducing overall impacts of resource use and improving the efficiency of such use.

Under the Directive, Member States had to adopt national waste management plans by 12 December 2010, and waste prevention programmes by 12 December 2013.
Such plans and programmes are intended to reduce the impact of waste on human health and the environment, and to improve resource efficiency across the EU. They are also a key for accessing EU funds and setting the framework for the development of sustainable waste infrastructure. Member States have to re-evaluate their waste management plans at least every six years and revise them as appropriate.

Romania is one of the most underperforming Member State in terms of managing municipal solid waste, with the highest landfilling rate of 72%, far above the EU average of 25,6%, in 2015.

In February, the EC also announced that it is taking the Romanian authorities to the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to close and rehabilitate 68 illegal landfills, which represent a serious risk for human health and the environment.

Despite earlier warnings and due to insufficient progress in addressing the issue, the Commission sent an additional reasoned opinion in September 2015, urging the Romanian authorities to adequately deal with 109 uncontrolled sites, which – although not in operation – still posed a threat to human health and the environment.

Some progress was made, but for 68 landfills the necessary measures – to clean them up and close them – had still not been completed by December 2016, Brussels officials pointed out.

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