Slovakia faces being hauled before the European Court and potentially fined if it continues to drag its feet over the implementation of packaging waste regulations, said Brussels.
The European Commission signalled its growing impatience with the Eastern European country late last week by issuing a second threat urging it to comply with EC Directive 94/62/EC which aims to slash the amount of packaging and packaging waste.
The directive requires member states to prevent the formation of packaging waste, to ensure that the weight and volume of packaging placed on the market is limited to the minimum, and to develop packaging reuse systems reducing their impact on the environment. It also introduces recovery and recycling targets for glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastics and wood packaging.
Following a warning in November 2010, the Commission highlighted a raft of shortfalls that Slovakia has failed to remedy.
According to information to the European body, Slovak legislation does not sufficiently encourage the recycling and the use of recycled materials.
The national government has also failed to prioritise energy recovery when it is preferable to material recycling for environmental and cost-benefit reasons. In addition, Slovak law contains some provisions that restrict competition in relation to packaging and packaging waste, said the body.
Under Slovak legislation, waste that has been recovered in another EU country and imported to Slovakia cannot benefit from a reduction of contributions to the national recycling fund – which is only granted operators recovering the country.
This creates an unjustified barrier to trade and restricts competition between member states, the Commission told FoodProductionDaily.com.
Brussels sent Slovakia a letter of formal notice on 25 November 2010. While the country agreed to change its laws the Commission said it has “concerns about the pace of change and is therefore sending a reasoned opinion”.
The Slovaks have two months to respond and if they do not they may be referred to the EU Court of Justice,” said the Commission official. “If the Court rules against Slovakia, it must then take the necessary measure to comply with the judgment.”
Further refusal by Slovakia to co-operate could then result in the court imposing financial penalties “based on the duration and severity of the infringement and the size of the member state and a daily penalty payment for each day after a second Court ruling until the infringement ends”, said the Commission.
Slovakia becomes the third country to come under pressure from the Commission. Last October, the body sent a similar warning to Poland, while it cautioned France in January 2012.