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Cyprus censured over landfills

THE EUROPEAN Court of Justice has censured Cyprus for not decommissioning the island’s uncontrolled landfills, or rendering them compliant with EU requirements on waste.

In an action brought in September 2012, European Commission vs Republic of Cyprus, the Commission declared that Cyprus had failed to fulfill its obligations.

In the main arguments of the case, the Commission says that, according to the relevant directive, existing landfill sites already in operation at the time of its transposition may continue to operate only if the steps required by European legislation are accomplished by July 16, 2009.

Otherwise their operation must cease. It said two remain in operation in the districts of Nicosia and Limassol and they were not expected to be decommissioned before the middle of 2015 or the beginning of 2016. ‘Therefore the infringement of Article 14 of the directive remains, and is not expected to cease at least for the next three years,” the Commission pointed out in its case.

It said that although some improvement had been noted, that occurred only after a substantial delay “since the necessary steps should have been completed by July 16, 2009”.

In its ruling, the court said that the violation should be assessed based on the situation of the member state on the expiry of the deadline given by the reasoned opinion. “The court does not take into consideration any changes made in the future and deems that the violation still exists,” it said.

“Furthermore, due to the fact that Cyprus is an island, it has no alternative but to deal with waste domestically, and thus the closing of the two uncontrolled landfills of waste is linked to the creation of new waste management units, which are not expected to be completed before the end of 2015,” it added.

It also said that member states were not allowed to cite internal situations or practices to justify failure to fulfil obligations and deadlines set out by a directive.

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