The EU Commission has sent Spain a final warning, informing the member state that it must either implement EU rules on lightweight plastic carrier bags or face infringement proceedings before the European Court of Justice. In the statements accompanying its July infringements package, the Commission said it had proceeded to the final step prior to litigation by sending Spain a reasoned opinion. The member state has two months to respond satisfactorily to the Commission’s concerns if it wishes to stave off a court case. Just last month, the EU body issued similar warnings to Greece, Italy, Poland and Cyprus.
The Commission maintains that the member states have not properly implemented the Plastic Bags Directive which is intended to dramatically cut the consumption of carrier bags with a wall thickness of less than 50 microns within the EU. The legislation was adopted in 2015 and the deadline for transposition expired on 27 November 2016.
The Directive obligates member states to take measures which may include requiring that a price be charged for these bags and/or introducing national reduction targets that ensure that no more than 90 lightweight carrier bags are consumed per person and year by the end of 2019 and no more than 40 bags by the end of 2025.
In its Thursday statement on the infringement proceedings, the Commission recalled that the member states are free to achieve compliance with the objectives of the Directive either through compulsory measures or through agreements with the affected economic sectors.