From: Reuters
Published January 31, 2008 06:51 AM

EU steps up legal action vs Italy over Naples waste

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will step up legal action against Italy over the country's handling of a rubbish crisis in Naples, it said on Thursday.

"The European Commission is sending Italy a final written warning over the chronic waste crisis plaguing Naples and the rest of the Campania region," the EU executive said in a statement.

Thursday's move is the final step before Brussels takes Italy to the European Court of Justice -- Europe's highest court.

"In view of the situation's urgency and gravity, the Commission is giving Italy one month to respond instead of the usual two month deadline," the statement said.

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Refuse collection in Naples and the surrounding Campania region stopped around Christmas when almost every dump was declared full. As a result, hundreds of metric tons of rubbish has piled up in the streets, triggering sporadic violence.

"The situation in Campania is intolerable. The Commission ... if necessary will use its powers to seek fines, until the situation in Campania is brought into line with the EU waste management standards," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

The Commission launched legal action against Italy last spring for breaching EU waste legislation amid a previous breakdown of rubbish collection and disposal in Campania.

(Reporting by Darren Ennis, editing by Jeremy Smith)

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