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Revising the Waste Framework Directive Basic Deficiencies of European Waste Law and Proposals for Reform

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For years, there has been criticism that there are substantial ambiguities in European waste law and that, in particular, crucial legal terms, such as waste, disposal and recovery, have not yet been defined sufficiently clearly. Such ambiguities hamper transposition into national law, complicate implementation by the national authorities and thus give rise to considerable economic and environmental problems in the waste management sector. Prompted by the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, the European Commission has finally initiated a revision of the general legal framework for European waste management. Amendments to the Waste Shipment Regulation have already been approved at a political level and are likely to be adopted this year. Revision of the basic terms, principles and provisions of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD), however, is still at a rather early stage. Against this background, we hope to show by the following that the ambiguities in EC waste law are not just a consequence of a lack of definitions but also the result of uncertainty surrounding basic regulatory and strategic issues which must be addressed first (Part I). We will therefore submit recommendations as to how these strategic questions should be answered in the light of both the environmental risks currently faced by the waste sector and the specific potential of waste-law approaches to reduce these risks (Part II). Finally, we will show how these strategic solutions could be converted into specific provisions and amendments to the WFD (Parts III and IV). The recommendations and suggestions presented below have been generated by a study conducted by the authors at the request of the German Ministry of the Environment1.

Affiliations: 1: University of Hamburg


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