EU Takes Nations to Task over Environment
BRUSSELS, Belgium European Union authorities Thursday warned 17 of the bloc's 25 member nations that they could face legal action for failing to apply EU environment protection laws in areas ranging from dirty beaches to reserves for wild birds.
The European Commission sent warning letters to 11 nations for removing beaches from their official lists of authorized bathing spots to avoid applying EU rules on clean water. A statement said Germany had taken over 45 percent of its coastal bathing spots off the list of beaches subject to EU controls.
The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Denmark, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Greece also had removed beaches from their lists, the Commission said in a statement.
"The EU bathing water directive is helping to ensure that millions of bathers can enjoy clean bathing water during the summer months," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. "Failing to clean up the polluted bathing sites is both against the letter and the spirit of the directive."
Dimas also sent a final warning to Germany for failing to set aside sufficient land for wild bird reserves under an EU law to protect habitats. However, the EU dropped an investigation into construction projects at Frankfurt airport after German authorities took measures to ensure bird habitats are protected.
"Our impact assessments of the projects have found that no 'priority' habitats or species, that is those at particular risk, would be affected," Dimas said.
The EU also dropped a long-running complaint against France for failing to comply with EU restrictions on wild-bird hunting, after Paris agreed to respect EU-brokered dates for the hunting season.
In a separate move, Dimas wrote to Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Germany for failing to submit information on measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Kyoto agreement on global warming.
The Commission also said it was boosting research into possible reforms of the electricity grid to promote cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy.
Source: Associated Press