Belgium in breach of EU anti-nitrate laws
22 September 2005
BRUSSELS — The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Flanders and Wallonia are both in breech of EU nitrate regulations, imposing a time limit for Belgium to implement anti-pollution rules.
Despite being given greater time to implement European regulations, the European Commission might demand a much greater area of the country be classified as a risk zone, broadcaster VRT reported.
European regulations were initially outlined to protect groundwater reserves and surface water from nitrate pollution from the agriculture sector.
The European Commission lodged the case against Belgium with the European Court in November 1999, claiming the linguistic regions were not applying EU laws sufficiently.
And the court agreed, ruling that Flanders breached the code of good agricultural practices, the identification of vulnerable zones plus the accompanying action plans and reporting obligations.
Wallonia was ruled to be in breach of the obligation to designate sensitive areas and to draw up action plans.
However, the ruling applies to the situation as it existed in November 1999 when the legal action was initiated, a court press release said.
The EC also lodged legal action against Flanders and Wallonia for legislation that was introduced after 1999, but the court ruled that these complaints were inadmissible.
European nitrate regulations were phased in from 1991 and outline what steps EU member states should take to avoid water pollution by nitrates running off from farmland.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news