Gong called on the government to stop ignoring the EU Court ruling and protect citizens
Gong called on the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the Government of the Republic of Croatia to stop ignoring the obligations arising from the judgment of the European Court and to protect the health and lives of the citizens of Biljani Donji and the environment in this region.
Although the Republic of Croatia has been a member of the European Union for almost a decade, it still struggles to transpose European regulations into national law. The European Commission has initiated numerous proceedings against Croatia for violation of Union rights, and four cases have been brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union. For the past three years, the Republic of Croatia has refused to comply with its obligations under the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Court of Justice is the highest court for European Union law, whose main task is to interpret Union law and ensure its uniform application in all Member States.
Gong, as an organization working for the democratization of the political system and the rule of law, today sent an appeal to Minister Davor Filipović, in which we demand respect for the highest court of the European Union.
Since 2010, residents of Biljani Donji in Zadar County have lived next to a mound of 140,000 tons of waste slag dumped on private land in the middle of a rural agricultural zone after the closure of the Šibenik Electrode and Ferroalloy Factory (TEF). This was a violation of the rule that waste may be deposited only in places that comply with all environmental protection measures in accordance with land use plans.
Despite the fact that the inspection reports of the competent ministry established that it is indeed waste and not a by-product, as originally claimed, and despite the protests of local associations and residents, for whom the slag pollutes the environment and endangers health, nothing has been done in terms of waste remediation.
The illegal slag dump in Biljani Donji has reached the Court of Justice of the European Union. In May 2019, the court found that Croatia has not taken all measures to ensure that slag management is carried out in a way that does not endanger human health or harm the environment. The country has not fulfilled its obligations because it considers the slag deposited in Biljani Donji as a by-product and considers it as waste and has not taken measures to ensure that the company that owns the slag processes it itself or commissions another to process it. Subsequently, in September 2021, the European Commission sent an official letter to the Republic of Croatia, pointing out that the country had not fulfilled its obligations under the judgment, as nothing had been done to clean up the waste.
Today, in November 2022, the black mountain of waste slag still stands in the same place as it did twelve years ago, with no concrete plans to remove it permanently. The next step that the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Commission can take under its powers is to set a lump sum or fine that the state must pay for failing to fulfil its obligations under the ruling. Thus, in 2016, the European Commission proposed the imposition of a daily fine of 9,840 euros for non-implementation of the Mortgage Credit Directive, which is why the Republic of Croatia came to the European Court of Justice for the first time. The Republic of Croatia then fulfilled its obligations, so the case was withdrawn, but this kind of sanction threatens us again.
An almost identical situation regarding illegal waste dumping exists in Dugi Rat, where residents recently protested again because over 250,000 tons of harmful waste have not been removed since the closure of the Dalmacija Dugi Rat factory in 2011. There has been no progress in this matter for years.
We do not want our yards to become illegal dumps.
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