August 2014: Reply to German farmers on the extension to the derogation of the Nitrates directive
The European Commission shares your view that nutrients should be used sustainably, as part of an overall effort to move towards a "circular economy". In this regard, the Commission has published in 2011 the Communication COM(2011) 571 "Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe" and is committed to achieve the milestones identified in the Roadmap. Resource efficiency needs to be attained by taking into account all possible impacts of the use of resources and by fully respecting environmental legislation. In particular, sustainable use of nutrients should be pursued while preventing and reducing pollution of European waters, in line with the objectives and requirements of the Nitrates Directive and the Water Framework Directive. In this regard, the Commission has just published a report on the implementation of the Nitrates Directive in the period 2008–2011. This report, based on data provided by the Member States, shows that the quality of groundwater is significantly degraded from pollution by nitrates in Germany (see Fig.A of the report). It is therefore crucial to ensure that Germany has in place adequate measures to guarantee that nutrient use goes hand in hand with reversing these negative trends on water quality, thus avoiding negative impacts on human health and the environment.
Animal testing in Italy
In the last months, I have received numerous letters from citizens and their representatives expressing concerns about animal testing in Italy.
Italy has not yet transposed Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes into national law. This is why, on 23 January 2014, the European Commission decided to take Italy to the EU Court of Justice for having failed to ensure transposition of the Directive within the prescribed deadline – by 10 November 2012 at the latest.
Waste management in Campania
The European Commission receives numerous letters from citizens expressing their concern about the waste management in Campania.
In this respect, the Commission announces the following:
In June 2013, the Commission has considered that the Italian authorities have not taken appropriate measures to comply with the judgment of 2010 condemning Italy for bad application of waste legislation in relation to the crisis in the Campania waste system, and sent Italy back to the Court of Justice of the EU (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-575_en.htm). This new case is currently pending before the Court (Case C-653/13).
With respect to the specific problem of illegal disposal of waste in the so-called "Land of fires" (in the Naples and Caserta provinces), the Commission urged the Italian authorities to adopt measures to prevent and remedy the frequent incidents of illegal disposal. In November 2012, the Italian Government has appointed a special commissioner responsible for coordinating the competent authorities (the Region of Campania, the municipalities in the provinces of Naples and Caserta, the prefects of Naples and Caserta, the Regional Environmental Protection Agency in the Campania Region) in order to remedy the situation. Also, in December 2013, the Italian Government adopted Decree Law 2013/136, passed into law in February 2014, which introduces the criminal offence of waste combustion and provides for the identification and the immediate verification of all agricultural areas in the vicinity of sites where the combustion of waste occurred, in order to avoid food poisoning.
Furthermore, in another infringement procedure against Italy (case 2003/2077), in April 2013 the European Commission brought the matter before the Court of Justice (case C-196/13) as there are several illegal landfills, located in the whole Italian territory, for which the Italian authorities have failed to execute the necessary rehabilitation activities or reclamation. This case, which is currently pending before the Court, also covers different sites in Campania.
The Commission therefore continues to closely monitor the situation regarding the management of waste in Italy, and in particular in Campania, in order to obtain a structural solution of the problem, allowing for a correct application of European Union legislation for the protection of the environment and public health. To this end, the Commission uses all the powers conferred on it by the EU Treaties, without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the authorities of the Member States, with whom rests the primary responsibility of ensuring the correct application of EU law in their territories.
October 2013: Antwort an deutsche Bauern hinsichtlich der Verlängerung der Ausnahmeregelung der Nitrat-Richtlinie
Die Europäische Kommission teilt Ihre Auffassung zur nachhaltigen Nutzung von Nährstoffen; dies ist ein Baustein unserer allgemeinen Anstrengungen hin zu einer "Kreislaufwirtschaft". Die Kommission hat in diesem Zusammenhang im Jahr 2011 ihren 'Fahrplan für ein ressourcenschonendes Europa' [KOM(2011)571] veröffentlicht und setzt sich mit Nachdruck dafür ein, dass die darin gesetzten Ziele auch erreicht werden.
Eine angemessene Berücksichtigung der möglichen Auswirkungen des Verbrauchs von Rohstoffen und die umfängliche Einhaltung der Umweltvorschriften sind wesentliche Voraussetzungen für einen effizienten Ressourceneinsatz. Besondere Bedeutung kommt dabei der nachhaltigen Nutzung von Nährstoffen zu. Dadurch lassen sich gleichzeitig Verschmutzungen der europäischen Gewässer verringern und verhüten - im Einklang mit den Zielen und Anforderungen der Nitrat- und der Wasserrahmenrichtlinie.
In diesem Zusammenhang hat die Kommission gerade erst einen Bericht über die Umsetzung der Nitrat-Richtlinie im Zeitraum 2008-2011 veröffentlicht. Dieser Bericht, der sich auf die von den Mitgliedstaaten übermittelten Daten stützt, belegt eine erhebliche Verunreinigung des Grundwassers durch Nitrat in Deutschland (siehe Abbildung A). Es ist somit von entscheidender Bedeutung, dass Deutschland mit geeigneten Maßnahmen im Bereich der Düngung eine Umkehr dieses Trends in der Wasserqualität sicherstellt, um negative Auswirkungen auf die menschliche Gesundheit und die Umwelt zu vermeiden.
03/10/2013: Statement by Commissioner Potočnik on Rosia Montana mine proposal
For those of you posting or writing about Rosia Montana: I am very much aware of the issue and have been in contact with the Romanian Minister to seek reassurances that EU environmental law will be fully respected.
At present it is a matter for the Romanian authorities. No permit has been issued yet and no environmental impact assessment has been completed. In this case, the responsibility lies with the Romanian government to ensure that the project meets the requirements of all EU environmental laws. The Commission has also requested information from the national authorities via the EU PILOT system. The Commission urges the Romanian authorities to take duly into account all relevant EU legislation, including environmental impact assessment requirements during the authorization procedures.
The Commission is fully prepared to play its role in seeing that EU law is respected. We will continue to follow the case closely.
06/05/2013: Statement concerning the uncontrolled burning of waste in Campania ("Terra dei fuochi")
20/02/2013: Statement of Commissioner Potocnik on the EU Zoos Directive
I am receiving messages and concerns about bad treatment of animals in Romanian zoos. This may indicate a more general problem of compliance with the EU Zoos Directive in Romania. The Zoos Directive aims at conserving biodiversity through the adoption of measures by Member States for the licensing and inspection of zoos. I have therefore instructed my services to raise this compliance issue with the Romanian authorities.
12/02/2013: Statement of Commissioner Potočnik on polar bears
I am receiving thousands of emails regarding the protection of polar bears under CITES.
It is impossible for me to reply to all of them individually. But I can assure all of you that the issue is close to my heart and I take it very seriously.
The European Commission is concerned about the protection of polar bears as much as some of its international partners, if not even more. But it is fair to say that there are divergent views on the best approaches and instruments to use.
We are firmly committed to finding a proper solution at international level; a solution that really helps to protect the polar bear. I am seeing to it that we will be playing a constructive role in the run-up to and at the Bangkok Conference of the Parties.
29/01/2013: Statement of Commissioner Potočnik on the introduction by the Italian Republic of the parameter Microcystin-LR in Legislative Decree n. 31/2011 on the quality of water intended for human consumption
14/01/2013: Statement of Commissioner Potočnik on hunting of the grey wolf in Slovakia
"I am receiving many complaints, queries and worries about hunting of the grey wolf (Canis lupus) in Slovakia. I take good note of these concerns. The wolf is a protected species under the Habitats Directive. The Slovak wolf populations are listed in Annex V of this Directive, so they can be subject to a management regime which can include their hunting. Nevertheless, Member States have the obligation to ensure that their populations are maintained at a favorable conservation status. The Slovak population represents an essential part of the Western Carpathian wolf population and its management has to be seen in this wider context. The Commission has established a dialogue with the Slovak authorities through an EU-Pilot system to ensure that compliance with EU law is achieved."
08/01/2013: Statement of Commissioner Potočnik concerning the arsenic in drinking water in Italy
19/11/2012: Statement on the use of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the European Union
07/09/2012: Statement by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik on Nordkalk limestone quarry
05/06/2012: Statement by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik on the landfill in Malagrotta (Italy)
09/03/2012: Statement in reply to request about Bird Trapping in MALTA
05/07/2011: Statement on illegal hunting of birds in Malta
Thank you for your message and for expressing your concerns about illegal hunting of birds in Malta. Recently I have received many messages about bird hunting in Malta. I take good note of all concerns expressed by many of you and wish to inform you that the Commission is in continuous dialogue with the Maltese authorities to achieve compliance with relevant EU law in this case.
17/01/2011: Statement by Commissioner Potočnik on the wolf hunt in Sweden
I regret that Sweden has begun the licensed hunting of wolves without giving clear answers to my letter sent on 7 December 2010. We have been in intensive dialogue with the Swedish government, which has been aware of the Commission's concerns about the legality of the hunt for a long time. The actions of the Swedish authorities leave me with little choice other than to propose to the Commission that it begin formal proceedings against Sweden for breach of EU environmental law. I hope that the Swedish government's promised effort to address the unfavourable conservation status of the wolf population in Sweden through translocation of wolves from other parts of Europe will be pursued without delay.