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Campania waste crisis: Italy must comply with EU rules before funds can be released

Plenary Session Press release - Environment03-02-2011 - 12:42

Italy must comply with EU law on waste management without delay, improve transparency to combat the involvement of organised crime and rebuild trust with local people, says Parliament in a resolution on the waste crisis in Campania approved on Thursday.

MEPs criticise the decision to open landfills in protected areas and restate their view that EU regional funds should be released only once Italian authorities have presented a plan for complying with Community rules.

The resolution was tabled by the S&D, Greens/EFA, ALDE and GUE/NGL groups and approved by 374 votes to 208 with 38 abstentions.

Financial penalties could be used

MEPs argue that progress made so far in the waste management process is "minimal". They urge the Italian government to comply with EU rules and meet the deadlines set by the Commission. The latter should monitor developments closely and, if necessary, impose fines to ensure that the local government of Campania respects Community waste management rules.

The structural funds currently withheld by the Commission will be freed only once the regional strategy to solve the crisis is consistent with EU provisions, say MEPs. They also call on regional authorities to present "a credible waste management plan".  A management plan is currently being assessed to evaluate its compliance with EU waste legislation, particularly regarding the hierarchy of treatment and the safe use of landfills and incineration.

Organised crime takes advantage of lack of transparency

Italy's use over the years of exceptional measures to gain exemptions from impact assessments and public procurement provisions, and to appoint special commissioners to push through decisions without consulting or informing local authorities, is "seen by much of the population as part of the problem, owing to its lack of transparency and the lack of institutional supervision, rather than the solution", says Parliament. This has led to increasing involvement of organised crime in waste management in the region. The Italian government declared that the emergency had ended in December 2009, giving the task of managing waste back to the local authorities.

No to waste site in protected areas

On the designation of new waste collection sites, MEPs call for strict controls to avoid to open landfills in protected areas, as was the case for those built within the Vesuvius National Park (in Terzigno).

The public protests that took place in places where waste sites were located were not taken seriously by Italian authorities, believe MEPs. Parliament therefore stresses the need to "rebuild trust" by dialoguing with and involving local people.

REF. : 20110203IPR13103