Judgment of the Court (Fifth Chamber) of 17 July 2014 — Commission v Greece

(Case C‑600/12) 1(1)

Failure to fulfil obligations — Environment — Waste management — Directives 2008/98/EC, 1999/31/EC and 92/43/EEC — Discharge of waste on the island of Zakinthos — Zakinthos national marine park — Natura 2000 site — Caretta caretta sea turtle — Extension of the validity period of environmental clauses — Lack of conditioning plan — Operation of a landfill site — Faults — Saturation of the landfill site — Infiltration of leachate — Insufficient coverage and dispersion of waste — Extension of the landfill site

1.                     Member States — Obligations — Implementation of directives — Failure to fulfil obligations — National system pleaded as justification — Not permissible (Art. 258 TFEU; European Parliament and Council Directive 2008/98; Council Directives 92/43 and 1999/31) (see paras 39, 41)

2.                     Actions for failure to fulfil obligations — Examination of the merits by the Court — Situation to be taken into consideration — Situation on expiry of the period laid down in the reasoned opinion (Art. 258 TFEU) (see paras 42, 54)

3.                     Actions for failure to fulfil obligations — Examination of the merits by the Court — Acknowledgement of the failure to fulfil obligations by the Member State concerned — No effect (Art. 258 TFEU) (see para. 46)

4.                     Actions for failure to fulfil obligations — Proof of failure — Burden of proof on Commission — Production of evidence showing failure — Incumbent on Member State concerned to refute evidence (Art. 258 TFEU) (see paras 49, 50)

5.                     Environment — Waste — Directive 2008/98 — Obligation on Member States to ensure that waste is recovered or disposed of — Obligation to achieve a result — Discretion of the Member States regarding the measures to be taken — Limits — Continuation of a non-compatible situation over a prolonged period leading to a significant deterioration in the environment — Failure to fulfil obligations (European Parliament and Council Directive 2008/98, Art. 13) (see paras 51, 52)

6.                     Environment — Waste — Landfill of waste — Directive 1999/31 — National measure authorising the operation of a landfill without a conditioning plan and without a definitive decision having been taken regarding the continued operation of the site on the basis of an approved conditioning plan — Failure to fulfil obligations (Art. 258 TFEU; Council Directive 1999/31, Art. 14(a) to (c)) (see para. 72)

7.                     Environment — Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora — Directive 92/43 — Authorisation for a plan or project on a protected site — Conditions — Appropriate assessment of its implications — Identification of aspects which can affect the site’s conservation objectives (Council Directive 92/43, Art. 6(3), first sentence, and (4)) (see paras 74‑76, 79)

Operative part

The Court:

1.

Declares that

–        by keeping in operation on the island of Zakinthos, at Griparaiika, in the area of Kalamaki (Greece), a landfill site which is malfunctioning, which is full and which does not observe the conditions and requirements of the environmental legislation of the European Union laid down in Articles 13 and 36(1) of Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives, and Articles 8, 9, 11(1)(a), 12 and 14 of Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste, and

–        by renewing the landfill permit for the site in question without complying with the procedure that is laid down by Article 6(3) of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora,

the Hellenic Republic has failed to fulfil its obligations under those provisions.

2.

Orders the Hellenic Republic to pay the costs.


1 – OJ C 63, 2.3.2013.