2020.03.05 09:31

Lithuanian government scrambles to avoid EU fine over centralised sewage

BNS 2020.03.05 09:31

As Lithuania is facing fines from the EU for failing to connect all urban households to centralised sewage networks, the country's Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika vows to meet the requirement by 2023.

However, the Justice Ministry, which coordinates the transposition of EU laws, demands better monitoring and a detailed schedule.

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“Four countries have already been fined, and those fines are really huge,” Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevičius told a government meeting on Wednesday. “Therefore, to ensure that everything is properly implemented, we proposed that the Environment Ministry draft and submit a detailed and comprehensive schedule on the elimination of the drawbacks mentioned in the European Commission's infringement procedure to the Government Chancellery and the Justice Ministry.”

Environment Minister Mažeika says the EU directive's requirement should be implemented by 2023. Around 19,000 people have not been connected to the centralized sewage network so far, according to him.

If the EU court concluded that Lithuania violated the wastewater treatment directive, the EC could file a second lawsuit and demand a fine of between 560.9 and 33,700 euros per day until violations were eliminated. A one-off fine could be at least 464,000 euros.

The EC initiated the infringement procedure against Lithuania in February 2017. In January 2019, the Commission urged Lithuania to eliminate the existing wastewater management drawbacks in towns with populations of more than 2,000 people within two months and install modern wastewater treatment systems.