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European Commission calls on Estonia and Ireland to improve wastewater management

  • European Commission calls on Estonia and Ireland to improve wastewater management

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European Commission
The European Commission is the EU's executive arm. It takes decisions on the Union's political and strategic direction.

The European Commission is pursuing legal action against Estonia and Ireland for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law concerning wastewater, as part of its February package of infringement decisions.

Commission calls on Estonia to improve its rules on industrial wastewater

The European Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Estonia (INFR(2023)2180) for failing to transpose and to implement certain provisions of the Industrial Emissions Directive (Directive 2010/75/EU) and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). Under the Industrial Emissions Directive, Member States must establish a permitting system for the relevant industrial installations and fix emission limit values for the discharge of industrial polluting substances. Under the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, Member States must regulate or authorise in advance, on a case-by-case basis, the possibility for industrial discharges to be collected and treated in urban wastewater systems. Estonia has not correctly transposed and implemented the provisions of the two directives which regulate the industrial discharges of polluting substances into water via urban wastewater collecting and treatment systems. The Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice to Estonia, which now has two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

Commission calls on Ireland to comply with the Urban Wastewater Directive

The European Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Ireland (INFR(2023)2178) for failing to fully comply with the obligations set in the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The Directive aims to protect health and the environment by requiring that urban wastewater is collected and treated before discharge. Untreated wastewater can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil, coastal, and groundwater. In Ireland, in eight agglomerations with a population of more than 2,000 people, urban waste waters are not properly treated before being discharged. A further three agglomerations with a population of more than 10,000 are discharging wastewater in sensitive areas without the more stringent treatment as required by the Directive. The Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice to Ireland, which now has two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

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