EU takes Sweden, Greece to court over environment

The European Union announced Thursday it is taking Sweden and Greece to court over repeated failures to live up to bloc-wide laws designed to protect the environment.

Sweden faces daily financial penalties for its inability so far to license major industrial sites, with more than two dozen cases already the subject of European Court of Justice rulings still to be applied.

Greece, meanwhile, is dragged before judges for the non-implementation of existing rulings covering illegal landfills.

Both face mounting, daily bills without prompt action, the executive European Commission said in its monthly round-up of infringements.

EU law takes years to negotiate cross-border law changes, longer still to implement them and invariably requires court threats or fines and other penalties before the new rules are harmonised.

The legal point of reference in the Swedish instance dates back to 2007, while the Greek row stems from a 2005 EU court decision.

In other actions announced, Britain was hit over a perennial dispute concerning sales tax (VAT) on energy.

Austria, Finland and Poland were rapped for non-respect of working time limits affecting self-employed transport workers.

And in a case that resonates given high-profile French tax defections to neighbouring Belgium, special rules there for retired expats hitting francophone tax residents also came into focus.