THE European Commission referred Cyprus to the EU Court of Justice on Thursday for failing to properly treat urban waste water.
According to EU Directive 91/271/EEC, all population clusters with more than 2,000 inhabitants need to have adequate collection and treatment systems for urban waste water.
The EC report said that “Cyprus has failed to provide a collecting system for a number of agglomerations and has also failed to ensure that the urban waste water entering collecting systems is subject to appropriate treatment.”
While some progress has been made, the EC noted, 31 agglomerations remain without appropriate waste water collection systems or without adequate treatment systems for collected waste water before it is discharged.
The EC decided to refer Cyprus to the Court of Justice, as it does not expect Cypriot authorities to fully comply with the standards set out by the Directive before 2027, it said.
The infringement proceedings were launched in 2017, through a letter of formal notice sent to the Cyprus authorities, followed by a reasoned opinion in June 2018, though Cyprus exhibited a continued failure to comply with EU law.
The urban waste water directive requires that urban waste water (domestic waste water and waste water from certain industrial sectors) is collected and treated before discharge, as untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil and coastal and groundwater.
Meanwhile, a second infringement proceeding was opened against Cyprus by the EC on Thursday, in view of Cyprus’ failure to comply with the reporting obligations on the environmental status of marine waters under the marine strategy framework Directive (2008/56/EC).
According to the EC, in June 2008, EU member states agreed to review and update their assessment of the environmental status of the waters concerned, the environmental impact of human activities, their determination of good environmental status and their environmental targets by 15 October 2018.
Cyprus, along with the UK, Bulgaria and Malta, among others, failed to submit reports to the Commission by the required deadline, resulting in the EC sending a letter of formal notice, officially launching the infringement proceedings.