Press and Information Division


13 December 2001

Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-324/99

DaimlerChrysler AG v Land Baden-Württemberg


A Decree of the Land Baden-Württemberg regulates the management of 'certain waste for disposal requiring special supervision'. According to that Decree, which implements a Law of 1998, producers and holders of that waste which is produced in Land Baden-Württemberg or which is to be treated, stored or deposited there must offer it to an 'Agency' for special waste, which sends it to a treatment centre in Germany. The Decree provides for two treatment centres, a discharge centre in Billigheim and an incinerator in Hamburg. Waste that cannot be treated in those treatment centres is sent by the Agency to the establishment suggested by the producer of the holder of the waste, if the waste can be treated there in accordance with the German environment protection legislation.

DaimlerChrysler disputed the legality of the Decree and applied to have it annulled by the German courts in 1996. It maintained that it was harmed by the obligation to offer the special waste to the German incineration centre because it was thereby prevented from having the waste produced by its factories in Land Baden-Württemberg incinerated more cheaply abroad, particularly in Belgium. Shipping the waste to the Hamburg installation, between 600 and 800 kilometres from its factories, caused it to incur additional costs of DEM 2.2 million (approximately EUR 1 million) each year.

In support of its action, DaimlerChrysler claimed in particular that the obligation laid down by the Decree was contrary to the principle of free movement of goods laid down in the EC Treaty. It maintained that that obligation was also contrary to the Community Directive on waste and on the Community Regulation on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community.

The Directive on which DaimlerChrysler relied, which is aimed at the harmonisation of national legislation on waste disposal, establishes the need to observe the principles of proximity, priority for recovery and self-sufficiency in relation to waste.

The Bundesverwaltungsgericht, before which the case had come, requested the Court of Justice to interpret those various provisions in order to enable it to determine whether the contested national provisions were compatible with Community law.

The Court observes that the Community Regulation defines in a harmonised manner, at Community level, the rules applicable to shipments of waste in order to ensure the protection of the environment. Accordingly, any national measure relating to shipments of waste must be assessed in the light of the provisions of that Regulation and not of the articles of the Treaty on free movement of goods.

Under the German Decree, authorisation to export waste which cannot be treated by the Special Waste Agency is subject to the condition that the circumstances in which the waste is disposed of satisfy the requirements of German environment protection legislation.

The Court holds that the Community Regulation does not authorise a Member State to impose such a condition.

The cases in which Member States may object to a shipment of waste are listed exhaustively in the Community Regulation and, where restrictions on shipments are laid down in a legislative measure of general application, they must be based exclusively on the principles of proximity, priority for recovery and self-sufficiency.

According to the Court, the German legislation constitutes a measure prohibiting shipments of waste and having general application.

First of all, it cannot be regarded as implementing the principle of proximity, since it takes no account of the proximity of the treatment installation suggested.

Next, the principle of priority for recovery, which provides that Member States are to take appropriate measures to encourage the recovery of waste, cannot be definition be implemented by national legislation such as that at issue, which is aimed at determining the treatment installation in which the waste can be disposed of.

Last, the Court observes that the condition laid down in the German legislation makes no contribution to the implementation of the principle of self-sufficiency, since it applies only in cases where, because the waste in question cannot be treated by an installation belonging to the approved body responsible for managing waste for disposal, it is sent in any event to a treatment establishment suggested by the producer or holder of the waste. That principle, which follows from the Community Directive on waste, is aimed at enabling the Community as a whole to become self-sufficient in waste disposal and the Member States to move towards that aim individually, by means of an integrated and adequate network of disposal installations.

The Court states, on the other hand, that the principle of self-sufficiency may in theory justify the obligation laid down in national legislation to offer waste for disposal to a local approved body, in order to ensure a level of activity indispensable to the viability of the treatment installations controlled by that body.

The German court also asked the Court of Justice to rule on the conformity of the specific procedure laid down by the national Decree which producers or holders of waste wishing to ship that waste or have it shipped are required to follow prior to the Community procedure.

The Court states in reply that the Community Regulation on shipments of waste has also harmonised the special procedure applicable to those shipments and that that procedure ensures that a person wishing to ship waste will be informed within specific periods, commencing when the proposed shipment is notified to the competent authorities, whether the shipment is authorised.

The Court concludes that as the Council Regulation on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the Community lays down a procedure for notification together with precise time-limits, any other procedure imposed at national level before the implementation of the Community procedure is precluded.

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