THE EUROPEAN Commission is referring Cyprus to the Court of Justice for violating the EU Landfill Directive, it was announced yesterday.

“In Cyprus several landfills have been found to be operating in violation of the directive,” the EC said. “While progress has been made through the closure and rehabilitation of a number of landfills and the establishment of an adequate waste management system, six landfills continue to operate in breach of the EU legislation.”

The EC said these landfills continued to absorb waste generated by the Municipalities of Nicosia and Limassol because of lack of adequate waste infrastructure.

“The Commission sent a related reasoned opinion to Cyprus in January 2012, but the reply indicated full compliance is not expected before 2015. Consequently the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court,” the EC said.

The purpose of the reasoned opinion - the second step in a three stage process that may lead to court - is to set out the Commission’s position on the infringement and to determine the subject matter of any action, requesting the member-state to comply within a given time limit.

The EU Landfill Directive is intended to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of the landfill of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health. Under the Directive, existing landfills must meet certain conditions in order to continue to operate.

The Directive bans or reduces the landfilling of certain wastes and defines technical requirements for the authorisation, design, operation, closure and after-care of landfills.

Landfills that were already in operation when the Directive became applicable had time until 16 July 2009 to adapt to the requirements.

And Cyprus may be in more trouble over its failure to inform the European Commission of the measures it took to fully transpose the Renewable Energy Directive into its national legislation.

Cyprus is among four EU members who will receive a reasoned opinion regarding their failure to transpose the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) by December 5, 2010.

“The timely transposition of this Directive is a priority for the Commission, especially since unnecessary delays in implementing it may jeopardize the achievement of the EU renewable energy objective,” an EC press release said. “However, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia have not informed the Commission of all the measures necessary to fully transpose the Directive into their national legislation.”

The violators must comply within two months or risk being referred to court.

The EU is committed to reach a 20 per cent share of renewable energy in final energy consumption and a 10 per cent share of renewable energy in transport by 2020. 

The regulatory framework laid down by the Renewable Energy Directive is a key element for reaching these objectives, the EC said.

According to the Directive, each state must reach individual targets contributing to the overall 20 per cent share of renewable energy in energy consumption. 

To reach these targets, they have to lay down rules, for example for improving the grid access for electricity from renewable energy sources, the administrative and planning procedures, information and training of installers etc. In addition, where biofuels are used to achieve the transport target, these must meet a set of sustainability requirements, which also need to be included in national legislation.

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