EC blows a fuse over electrical waste

  • 2007-10-18
  • By Mike Collier
BRUSSELS -- The European Commission (EC) is to start legal action against eight member states, including all three Baltic states for not properly transposing EU legislation to tackle waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and the hazardous substances contained in such products.

The Commission believes that the three Baltic States have not correctly transposed certain provisions of the WEEE Directive. The Commission is carrying out compliance checks on relevant legislation in other member states and may need to open further infringement procedures.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Electrical and electronic equipment can contain significant levels of hazardous substances. When these appliances become waste there is the danger that hazardous substances can be released into the environment and pose a danger to human health. These two directives are designed to minimise that risk, but member states need to properly transpose them into national law as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of their citizens."

Member states were required to transpose the directive into national legislation by 13 August 2004 and to put in place take-back and recycling systems by 13 August 2005.

"The three Baltic states have not properly transposed the directive. The shortcomings vary from one country to another, but include incorrect or missing requirements and non-compliant collection and treatment provisions," according to an EC statement.

The Commission is sending the three Baltic States a warning letter, the first stage in the infringement procedure. It will decide on the need for further action in the light of the responses it receives.

Latvia and Estonia can also expect to receive stiff letters on another subject - the nationality of notaries. Both countries, along with six other member states, will get warnings from the EC about rules stating that notaries have to be citizens of the countries in which they operate, which are contrary to European law.

"In the view of the Commission this nationality requirement is contrary to thefreedom of establishment provided for in Article 43 of the EC Treaty and cannotbe justified by reference to Article 45, which exempts activities involved inthe exercise of official authority," an EC statement reads.

As both Latvia and Lithuania maintained their positions in their replies totheir forst letters of formal notice, the Commission has decided to send them reasonedopinions, the second stage in the infringement procedure.

Estonia has been dropped from the EC's 'naughty list' after it adjudged that its own nationality requirement was no longerjustified, and so will join Italy, Portugal and Spain, which have abolished thenationality requirement for notaries, and the Netherlands which is currentlydoing so.