Croatia to Pay Hefty Penalties to European Commission?

Total Croatia News

The government again missed the deadline for adoption of waste management plan.

Despite earlier promises by ministers, at this year’s last session of the government held on Thursday, the waste management plan for the 2016-2022 period was not adopted, and that is the reason why the European Commission could impose substantial penalties to Croatia, reports on December 30, 2016.

However, Minister of Environmental Protection and Energy Slaven Dobrović said there was no reason for panic. “Everyone expected that the government would adopt the waste management plan, but it did not happen due to procedural problems. We still needed to complete a small part of it. What is important is that there is no dispute and that the plan will likely be adopted at the next meeting of the government”, he said on Thursday.

“It is also important that failure to formally adopt a plan in 2016 does not mean anything in particular. The fact that it will be adopted at the beginning of 2017 will not cause any financial damages to Croatia. We are very seriously approaching the implementation of what is outlined in the plan, which includes various activities related to recycling”, said the Minister.

According to sources from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy, the delay occurred because one of the tables from the plan had not been prepared in time by officials. They add that the waste management plan has been agreed with coalition partners and other ministries, and that there are no longer any differences. Asked by journalists to assess the financial impact of the plan, Minister Dobrović said that it would be known “only after all the tables are completed”.

However, not everybody shares the Minister’s optimism about the reaction of the European Commission. “If the Ministry does not negotiate an extension to the deadline, it will be difficult because the adoption of the plan has already been delayed for over a year, so it is very possible that we could pay penalties in the range of tens of thousands of euros a day”, said Marko Košak from the Green Action.

“However, we will also pay penalties if we does not meet objectives regarding the separation of waste and recycling. It is therefore important not only to adopt the plan, but also to improve it in order to stop harmful projects such as incinerators and regional centres for large quantities of mixed waste that have been hampering the development of recycling system for years. It is necessary to decentralize the system and create local systems for separation, recycling, composting and reuse of waste. It is vital to adopt a high-quality national waste management plan because the current system in Croatia is among the worst in Europe”, said Košak.

Not even all members of the government are convinced that Croatia will not have to pay any penalties. On Wednesday, Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac announced that the government would adopt the plan the next day, noting that “it is still not clear whether Croatia would have to pay penalties to the European Commission for the delay”. Croatia was initially supposed to adopt the plan much earlier, but the deadline was postponed once already.

She recalled that in late November her Ministry sent to the Environmental Protection Ministry a warning about deadlines defined by the European Commission, which meant that Croatia had to adopt the waste management plan by the end of 2016, since it is a prerequisite for the use of European funds for environmental protection and waste management. Although Žalac said that “Minister Dobrović very well knows the situation and deadlines”, the plan was still not ready for the cabinet meeting.


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