European court slaps Greece with 10-million-euro fine over landfills

The European Court of Justice on Tuesday slapped Greece with a 10-million-euro fine for failing to comply with waste management directives as dozens of illegal landfills continue to operate in the cash-strapped country.

The Strasbourg-based court found that Greece has not fulfilled the requirements of a prior ruling dating from 2005 ordering the country to shut down all its uncontrolled dumps by 2008. The European Commission sent Greece formal notices in 2009 and 2010, followed by action taken in 2013 after the country continued to flout regulations.

“In today’s judgment, the Court states that, by the reference date of 29 December 2010, according to information that Greece produced before the Court in May 2014, Greece had not yet adopted all the measures necessary to comply in full with the 2005 judgment. That being so, the Court considers it justifiable to impose financial penalties on Greece,” the court said on Tuesday.

According to official figures from Greece and the Commission, in May 2014, out of a total of 293 illegal landfills, 70 remained operational and 223, although closed down, had not yet been cleaned up. While this is an improvement from the 1,125 illegal dumps that were operational in 2004, the court deemed that measures remain insufficient.

Until the 2005 judgment is complied with in full, the actual amount of the penalty will depend on the progress made by Greece, the court said, adding that if there is no such progress, the penalty will be more than 14 million euros for each six-month period of delay.