VILNIUS – Lithuania is facing sanctions of "several hundred millions euros" for its failure to comply with the EU directive on waste water treatment, the country's Environment Minister Simonas Gentvilas says.
"With doing nothing and maintaining that problem, we will definitely face significant fines. We are speaking about sanctions of several hundred million euros for Lithuania," he told a press conference on Friday, adding that 2021 will be key in implementing these directives.
"This year will be critical as to whether Lithuania will pay multimillion fines or deal with the problems that are stuck in drawers," the minister said.
According to Gentvilas, 38,500 residents living in areas that must be connected to centralized waste networks were not connected in July, 2020.
"The National Audit Office's report contains a fact that Lithuania only treats 47 percent of waste water, and the goal is to treat 95 percent of waste water in urban territories and residential agglomerations with more than 2,000 residents," he said.
According to Gentvilas, two dates are critical and they are March 1 this year when these municipalities will have to prepare infrastructure development plans, and also December 31, 2022 as Lithuanian will have to meet all EU requirements by this date.
The EC launched the infringement procedure against Lithuania for failure to implement The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive back in 2017.