Italy has been ordered to pay €40m financial penalties for failing to comply with a 2007 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union establishing failure to tackle illegal waste being dumped.
In addition to a lump sum of €40m, the Court requires Italy, until the 2007 judgment is complied with in full, to make a penalty payment of €42 800 000 for each six month period of delay in taking the necessary measures.
In a first judgment delivered in 2007, the Court established that Italy had failed, generally and persistently, to comply with its waste management obligations under the directives on waste, hazardous waste and the landfill of waste.
In 2013, the Commission found that Italy had not yet adopted all the measures necessary to comply with the 2007 judgment.
In particular, 218 sites in 18 of the 20 Italian regions were not in conformity with the Waste Directive (from which it could be inferred that there must be sites operating without a permit); also, of those 218 sites, 16 contained hazardous waste in breach of the Hazardous Waste Directive; and, lastly, Italy had not proved that five landfills had been ‘conditioned’ or closed down in accordance with the Landfill of Waste Directive.
In the course of the present proceedings, the Commission stated that, according to the most recent information, 198 sites were still not in conformity with the Waste Directive and that 14 of those sites were not in conformity with the Hazardous Waste Directive either.
Moreover, two landfills had still not been brought into conformity with the Landfill of Waste Directive.
In the judgment, the Court stated, first of all, that merely closing down a landfill, or covering waste with earth and rubble, is not enough to comply with the obligations under the Waste Directive.
Accordingly, compliance with the directive is not achieved by taking measures to close sites down and make them secure. In fact, member states are also required to determine whether it is necessary to clean up old illegal sites and, if so, to clean them up. Sequestrating the landfill and instituting criminal proceedings against the operator do not constitute sufficient measures.
Next, the Court pointed out that, on the expiry of the deadline, cleaning up works were still in progress or had not yet been started for certain sites; in respect of other sites, the Court observes that no information had been provided that would make it possible to establish the date on which such works were implemented.
The Court concluded from this that the obligation to recover or dispose of waste without endangering humans or the environment, and the obligation requiring the holder of waste to have it handled by a waste collector which carries out waste disposal and recovery operations, or to carry out those operations itself, have persistently been infringed.