European Commission criticizes Latvia for inability to implement sustainable management of resources, improve situation with natural habitats

  • 2022-09-15
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The European Commission has criticized Latvia for inability to implement sustainable management of resources, improve situation with natural habitats, LETA learned from Liene Brizga-Kalnina, the spokeswoman for the Latvian Fund for Nature.

The European Commission in its latest Environmental Implementation Review pointed at Latvia's problems in biodiversity, circular economy, productivity of resources and quality of water.

The European Commission says that Latvia has not used the funding offered by the EU for solving environmental problems.

"Environmental organizations in Latvia, including the Latvian Fund for Nature, have regularly in talks with politicians, officials and the society pointed at the same problems. This was also one of the central issues in pre-election debates of the environmental organizations with parties. Sustainable resource management is not a task that can be postponed to the future, it can only help us to successfully overcome the current and future crisis,:  said Andrejs Briedis, the council chairman of the Latvian Fund for Nature.

The European Commission reports that Latvia faces significant challenges in relation to the protection of biodiversity. According to the latest report under the Habitats Directive, Latvia ranks 24th among 27 EU member states as regards the conservation status of its habitats. Less than 10 percent of them are assessed as having a favorable conservation status.

Latvia needs to develop a comprehensive approach to ecosystem services, mainstream biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in other sectors, notably forestry and agriculture, as 90 percent of its EU-protected forests and grasslands are assessed as having bad or poor status.

The European Commission notes that there has been good progress in addressing the first challenge with waste management. The ‘national waste management plan 2021-2028’ incorporates the new EU waste targets and requirements. Latvia’s recycling rate of 39.6 percent in 2020 for municipal waste represents an improvement, but it has nevertheless fallen behind as regards its re-use and recycling targets. With its reform of waste management regions and introduction of the deposit system for plastic and glass bottles in 2022, Latvia is taking steps in the right direction.

As to the second challenge, there has been no progress. With EUR 0.94 generated per kg of material consumed in 2020, resource productivity in Latvia is still less than half of the EU average and the circular use of material dropped to 4.2 percent, or less than a third of the EU average. As a positive development, the circular economy action plan 2021-2027 was adopted and Green Public Procurement constituted 27 percent of all public procurement in Latvia in 2020 in financial terms. The national circular economy action plan needs to be strengthened with more detailed and targeted actions, funding and implementation.

The European Commission also says in its report that only 21.1 percent of all surface water bodies in Latvia reach good ecological status and 10.6 percent have good chemical status. Latvia is among the Member States facing the greatest challenges in tackling nutrient pollution from agriculture. A high number of surface waters have been found to be eutrophic. Eutrophication is affecting both inland and marine waters. An acute eutrophication problem in 97 percent of the Baltic Sea represents a problem shared with neighboring states.

The European Commission says that Latvia has not used the EU funding for achieving environment policy goals. Latvia has not included any measures directly benefiting the environment in its recovery and resilience plan.