Environment: Cyprus warned over failures to notify marine protection legislation

The Commission is asking Cyprus to comply with EU legislation requiring Member States to draw up marine strategies to protect their seas. Cyprus has failed to inform the Commission about the transposition of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which should have been in place by 15 July 2010. At the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion. If Cyprus does not comply within two months, the Commission may refer it to the Court of Justice and may already ask the Court to impose financial sanctions at this stage, without having to return to the Court for a second ruling.

Cyprus is being sent a reasoned opinion for its failure to inform the European Commission about measures it is taking to transpose EU legislation about the protection of the marine environment. If it does not take appropriate action within two months, the Commission may refer the case to Court.

Directive 2008/56/EC (the “Marine Strategy Framework Directive”) establishes common principles enabling Member States to draw up coordinated strategies to protect and restore Europe's marine ecosystems, and to ensure the ecological sustainability of activities linked to the marine environment.

Member States assess the ecological status of their marine waters and the impact of human activities, before determining the "good environmental status" of these waters on the basis of criteria related to biodiversity, the presence of non-indigenous species, fish stock health, the food chain, eutrophication (the algal bloom that can result from the presence of excessive nutrients in the water, e.g. from fertilisers), changes in hydrographic conditions and concentrations of contaminants, the amount of marine litter and underwater noise pollution. Targets and indicators are then set to achieve this good environmental status, with a programme of measures to achieve the objectives.

The timely transposition of EU legislation is a priority for the Commission, especially given the potential consequences of delaying environmental protection measures. Under new policy in cases where Member States have failed to transpose EU legislation into national law within the required deadline, the Commission can now ask for financial sanctions to be imposed at the first referral to Court. This policy was adopted in November 2010 and entered into force on 15 January 2011.

Further information

For current statistics on infringements in general:

More details on water policy: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/index_en.htm
See also MEMO/11/162