Brussels, 6 January 2004
The European Commission has requested Belgium and Spain to comply with 2003 rulings of the European Court of Justice concerning their failure to adopt and notify national legislation implementing an EU law on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs).
The EU law aims to ensure that the use of GMMs in laboratories and other contained conditions is as environmentally safe and secure as possible. The required national legislation should have been put in place by 5 June 2000.
Commenting on the decisions, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: "I am disappointed that Belgium and Spain are now over three years late in completing the transposition of this Directive. I urge them to put the remaining national legislation in place as soon as possible. "
On 13 March 2003, Belgium was condemned by the European Court of Justice for failing to meet the 5 June 2000 deadline (Case C-436/01). Transposition is now complete for the regions of Brussels and Wallonia, but legislation is still lacking for Flanders. The Commission has, therefore, sent Belgium a letter of formal notice under Article 228 of the Treaty.
On 13 March 2003, Spain, too, was condemned by the Court for the same reason (Case C-333/01). While some legislation has since been put in place, transposition remains incomplete. More specifically, while Spain has put into place relevant legislation, further detailed regulations are still needed and have not yet been adopted and notified. The Commission has, therefore, sent Spain a letter of formal notice under Article 228 of the Treaty.
Contained Use of GMMs
In 1990, the European Union adopted a Directive on the contained use of genetically modified organisms.
In 1998, this Directive was substantially amended to take account of technological advances made since 1990 (1) . The revised Directive aims to bring the legislation into line with current international practice. Its core aim is to better link the administrative procedures and notification requirements to the real risk of the activities concerned. Furthermore, it expands the guidelines on the containment and control measures that need to be applied to protect human health and the environment.
It also introduces more flexibility to allow for easier adaptation to future technical progress. National transposing legislation should have been adopted and communicated to the Commission by the 5 June 2000 at the latest.
Article 228 of the Treaty of the European Union gives the Commission power to act against a Member State that does not comply with a previous judgement of the European Court of Justice. Article 228 of the Treaty also allows the Commission to ask the Court to impose a financial penalty on the Member State concerned
For current statistics on infringements in general, please visit the following web-site:
(1) Council Directive 98/81/EC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms