Malta and Poland to court over poor waste water treatment

Justice
The European Court of Justice refers Malta and Poland to court. Photo: Pixabay.

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The European Commission (EC) refers Malta and Poland to the European Court of Justice over poor waste water treatment. The Commission considers that efforts by the Maltese and Polish authorities have been insufficient and therefore refers these Member States to the European Court of Justice.

The decision was published by the European Commission in the February infringements package. In Malta the main issue is the poor performance of waste water treatment plants. The wastewater treatment plants (WWTP’s) do not meet the quality requirements of the directive. This is particularly the case in an agglomeration in the North of Malta. Wastewater there is being discharged in a sensitive area and should be subject to more stringent treatment.

Animal manure

The situation in Malta is mainly due to the discharge of animal manure into the municipal waste water system. This is a long-standing problem in Malta, which hampers the performance of the treatment plants and for which the authorities have not yet found solutions. Malta should have been fully compliant with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) since 31 March 2007. Despite some progress, the Maltese authorities have not achieved to comply to the rules.

Lack of wastewater collection

In Poland, over 1000 agglomerations do not have a collecting system for their municipal waste waters meaning that the waste water is being directly discharged in rivers, seas or lakes without treatment. In addition, in 415 agglomerations, whose waste waters are being discharged in sensitive areas, Poland has not ensured that those waters are subject to more stringent treatment.

Insufficient efforts

Poland should have been fully compliant with the Directive by 2015. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Poland on 26 January 2018, followed by a reasoned opinion on 14 May 2020. The European Commission considers that despite some progress and financial support from EU cohesion policy, efforts by the Polish authorities have to date been insufficient and is therefore referring Poland to the Court of Justice.

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