TALLINN - In addition to penalties for excess sugar stocks, the European Union may hit Estonia with a fine for failing to meet recycling quotas.
The business daily Aripaev reported that although Estonian environmental officials are reluctant to believe that a fine could materialize, the possibility is written into EU law.
At accession talks in 2004 Estonia committed itself to recycle at least 50 percent of packaging in 2004, which represents a threefold increase in comparison with the year 2002.
Unlike all other acceding countries, Estonia was not granted a transition period for adopting the EU packaging directive since the country opted instead for a respite in another environmental pollution area 's the dumping of ash from oil shale-fueled power plants, the country's chief source of electricity 's until 2009.
Helle Haljak, adviser at the Environment Ministry's waste department, said Estonia initially did not even need a transition period, as it already had a packaging law in effect in 1995 and recycling had gotten off the ground by the time of accession talks.
But no one anticipated it would remain at the same level for a longer period, she said.
"Regarding the packaging directive, we naturally expect we'll manage to meet the commitments by the deadline. But, in theory, if Estonia should fail to do so the European Commission would have the right to call us to order," Signe Ohakas, an environment official, said.