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Poland referred to Court of Justice of EU over wastewater treatment

  • Poland referred to Court of Justice of EU over wastewater treatment

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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 Commission has referred Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that urban agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements) properly collect and treat their waste waters, thus eliminating or reducing all their undesirable effects when they are discharged into water bodies.

The European Green Deal sets a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU. EU legislation, such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, aims to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment, and it is essential that Member States implement it fully.

Poland should have been fully compliant with the Directive since 2015. In Poland, over 1000 agglomerations do not have a collecting system for their municipal waste waters meaning that the waste water is being directly discharged in rivers, seas or lakes without treatment. The waste water should normally be directed to a waste water treatment plant before being discharged. In addition, in 415 agglomerations, whose wastewaters are being discharged in sensitive areas, Poland has not ensured that those waters are subject to more stringent treatment as required by the Directive.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Poland on 26 January 2018, followed by a reasoned opinion on 14 May 2020. The Commission considers that despite some progress and financial support from EU cohesion policy, efforts by the Polish authorities have to date been unsatisfactory and insufficient and is therefore referring Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

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