EU targets governments over electronic waste rules

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BRUSSELS, Oct 17 (Reuters) Several European Union countries have failed to turn the bloc's rules on electronic waste into national law and now face legal action from Brussels, the European Commission said today.

The rules require manufacturers to accept used refrigerators, computers, cell phones and other appliances from consumers and recycle them. The rules aim to reduce the amount of appliances that end up in landfills and are watched closely by producers in Asia and other regions outside Europe.

The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc's executive, said it would take legal action against Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for not properly making the EU's so-called WEEE directive for waste electrical and electronic equipment into national law.

Separately, Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Malta, Finland and Sweden failed to introduce an EU law banning the use of some heavy metals and other hazardous materials in electronic equipment into their national rulebooks.

Those rules cover equipment on sale from July 2006.

''When these appliances become waste there is the danger that hazardous substances can be released into the environment and pose a danger to human health,'' Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a statement.

''These two directives are designed to minimise that risk, but member states need to properly transpose them (into) national law as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of their citizens.'' The Commission sent warning letters to the offending countries, the first step in a legal process that can end up at an EU court which can eventually impose fines.

In other environmental areas, the Commission started legal action against Bulgaria for ''inadequate waste management infrastructure'' in Sofia.

It targeted Malta for illegally allowing the hunting of certain species of birds during the spring, an important migration and breeding period.

The EU executive also took steps against Britain for not complying with an EU court decision concerning waste water treatment in seven towns and said Luxembourg might face fines if it did not bring its waste water treatment up to EU standards.

The Commission started legal action against a handful of countries including Belgium and Portugal for not submitting plans that outline energy efficiency measures.


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