Europe

Greece fined €10m for breaking EU waste rules

A man stands in front of vehicles arranging piles of garbage at Liosia landfill northeast of Athens Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Most Greek waste ends up in a limited number of landfill sites

The cash-strapped Greek government has been ordered by the European Court to pay €10m (£8.4m; $11m) and another €30,000 per day for not following rules on disposing of rubbish.

As much as 80% of waste ends up at Greek landfill sites, according to a 2010 report.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the government had not complied with several deadlines to improve.

Greece's failure risked harming human health and the environment, it said.

The government has struggled to maintain public services amid a debt crisis that has prompted three international bailouts.

Greece now owes its creditors more than €300bn - about 180% of its annual economic output (GDP) - and is looking to secure debt relief.

The latest bailout, worth up to €86bn, is dependant on a series of political reforms that ministers have been slow to introduce. Although part of it was handed over during the summer, EU diplomats are reportedly unhappy that little progress has been made in privatising state assets.

Image caption Greece buries twice as much of its waste in landfill as the EU average

Mounds of filth on a Greek island paradise

Improving waste management has long been identified by the EU as a problem for Greece, with illegal landfills blighting the countryside.

The ECJ, the highest EU court, ruled in 2009 that Greece had failed to carry out new rules on rubbish, hazardous waste and landfill and took further action after the government in Athens failed to meet its 2013 deadline.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the court said Greece's failure to meet its obligations was "particularly serious in so far as it is liable to directly endanger human health and to harm the environment".

Not only should Greece pay a lump sum fine of €10m, it ruled, but it should also pay a daily penalty payment of €30,000 "payable from today".

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