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European Commission calls on Malta, Poland, Greece, Slovakia to comply with urban wastewater rules

  • European Commission calls on Malta, Poland, Greece, Slovakia to comply with urban wastewater rules

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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.
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The Commission is calling on Malta, Poland and Slovakia, to comply with EU rules on urban waste water treatment (Council Directive 91/271/EEC). Under the Directive, towns and cities are required to put in place the necessary infrastructure in order to collect and treat their urban waste water. Uncollected or untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil and coastal and groundwater. The European Green Deal aims to steer the EU towards a zero pollution ambition, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality. 

In Slovakia, 19 agglomerations have failed to provide a collecting system and to ensure that the urban waste water entering collecting systems is treated appropriately. These agglomerations should have been compliant by 31 December 2015.

Under the same Directive, Member States are also required to establish a programme for the implementation of the Directive and provide the Commission with an update of the programme every two years.

Despite several reminders, Malta and Poland have not provided information on their programme to the Commission by the deadline of 30 June 2020.

The Commission has therefore decided to send letters of formal notice to Malta, Poland and Slovakia, which have 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.

The Commission is also calling on Greece to comply with EU rules on urban waste water treatment (Council Directive 91/271/EEC). Under the Directive, towns and cities are required to put in place the necessary infrastructure in order to collect and treat their urban waste water. Uncollected or untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil and coastal and groundwater. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Greece on the matter in May 2020.

The European Green Deal aims to steer the EU towards a zero pollution ambition, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality.

Data provided by Greece revealed that, urban wastewater is neither properly collected, nor properly treated before being discharged in 209 agglomerations. Greece is also relying to an excessive extent on Individual and Appropriate Systems (e.g. septic tanks) without fulfilling the standards of the Directive.

The Commission has therefore decided to send a reasoned opinion to Greece, giving it two months to remedy the situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the country to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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