European Commission refers Bulgaria to ECJ over marine environment protection

The European Commission said on July 2 that it has decided to refer Bulgaria to the EU Court of Justice over late reporting under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. As part of the July infringements package, the EC also opened five new infringement proceedings against Bulgaria, advanced four existing cases and closed one.

According to the Commission, Bulgaria did not provide an update on “the determination of good environmental status and of the environmental targets” under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, whose aim is to achieve good environmental status of the EU’s marine waters by 2020, by the October 2018 deadline.

Bulgaria failed to do so even after receiving a letter of formal notice in March 2019 and a reasoned opinion in October 2019. “Given that the non-compliance persists, the Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU,” the EC said in a statement.

The five new infringement cases, marked by letters of formal notice, concerned Bulgaria’s failure to correctly apply EU rules on the marketing of natural mineral water and spring water, failure to connect its national business register to the EU business register tool, incorrect transposition of EU’s accounting directive as amended by the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, failure to fully transpose the directive on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances, and incomplete transposition of revised EU radiation protection legislation.

In each of those cases, Bulgaria has three months to take the necessary measures to comply with the letter of formal notice, otherwise the Commission escalate the issue to the second stage of infringement proceedings and send a reasoned opinion.

The four reasoned opinions in the July package concerned Bulgaria’s failure to adopt a national programme for radioactive waste management compliant with the EU spent fuel and radioactive waste directive, the breach of EU rules on services and the legislation on lawyers, incomplete communication of measures taken to implement EU’s amended shareholder rights directive, as well as failure to respect its obligations under the habitats directive for the conservation of natural habitats and protected species included in the Natura 2000 network.

Similar to the letters of formal notice, Bulgaria has three months to take the measures correcting the situation or face the risk of the case being referred to the EU Court of Justice.

Finally, the Commission said that it closed the infringement procedure against Bulgaria concerning EU drugs policy after it fully transposed a directive taht added new psychoactive substances to the definition of ‘drug’ contained in EU law.

(European Commission headquarters Berlaymont building. Photo: JLogan)

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