EU hits Greece with heavy fines over poor waste management

8 Sep 16

The European Court of Justice has ordered Greece to pay a €10m lump sum to the European Commission for continually poor waste management, plus €30,000 for every day its waste situation does not improve.

The heavily indebted country was handed the penalties, payable from yesterday, for failing to take measures to improve its waste management after this was found to be in breach of several European Union rules in 2009.

The court said Greece’s failure to fulfil its obligations for six years was “particularly serious, in so far as it is liable to directly endanger human health and to harm the environment”.

According to a 2013 report by the European Environment Agency, 80% of Greece’s household waste ended up in landfill that year. Many illegal landfills operate in Greece, while some among those that are sanctioned are accused of mismanagement.

As well as being in breach of EU landfill directives, Greece was also found lacking in terms of its hazardous waste management, which includes chemical and medical waste.

Following the 2009 judgement, Greece was given until March 2013 to take measure to improve its waste management.

Yesterday, the court ruled that it had failed to do so and said it would impose the daily penalty until Greece reaches full compliance.

“Moreover, the court considers it appropriate to order Greece to pay, into the EU budget, a lump sum of €10m in order to prevent a repetition of infringements on EU law in the future,” it added.

Many public services, waste management in particular, are barely running in Greece amid a dire economic crisis.

The terms of three hefty international bailouts have required Greece to cut back its spending substantially in return for saving the country’s economy from collapse.

Greece owes its creditors, which includes the European Commission, more than 180% of its GDP.

Like those that have gone before it, the most recent €86bn deal, agreed last year, requires a raft of further harsh austerity measures to raise funds.

While some €7.5m of that has been released, EU finance ministers may reportedly withhold the rest of the first €10.3bn tranche until the end of the year because Greece has failed to push through all of the highly unpopular reforms.

Even so, Greece has few funds to improve its waste management services, let alone pay the one-time or daily fines imposed by the ECJ, the latter of which would amount to more than €7m if Greece fails to take the required steps within six months.


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