The European Commission decides to refer SLOVENIA back to the Court of Justice of the European Union for continued pollution problems caused by an illegal landfill

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Slovenia  back to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully comply with the Court judgment of 16 July 2015, which found that Slovenia failed to meet its obligations under the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EU) and the Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EU).

In that judgment, the Court found that Slovenia violated both the Waste Framework and the Landfill Directives, as two landfills in the vicinity of old Zync factory in Celje, one in the business zone Gaberje-jug and one in Bukovžlak were illegal. The Gaberje-jug landfill was rehabilitated in 2015 and the site is now compliant with EU rules. However, almost 8 years after the judgment, Slovenia has not complied with its obligations as regards the Bukovžlak landfill as no rehabilitation works have yet started. To comply with the judgment, Slovenia is expected to take all the necessary measures to ensure that this landfill is closed and rehabilitated as soon as possible due to the health and environmental risks it entails.

The European Green Deal sets a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU. Full implementation of the standards enshrined in EU legislation is important to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.

In view of the repeated delays in taking the necessary measures, the Commission decided to refer Slovenia back to the Court. This is a second referral to Court, which may result in financial penalties for the time elapsed from the first judgment until achieving compliance.


The Waste Framework Directive sets the legal basis for waste management in the EU. It introduces waste management principles such as the ‘polluter pays principle” and lays down a binding hierarchy for managing waste. It obliges Member States to take measures to ensure that waste management is carried out without endangering human health and without harming the environment. Waste is to be treated without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, without causing a nuisance through noise or odours, and without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest. The foundation of EU waste management is the five-step ‘waste hierarchy', established in the Waste Framework Directive. By order of preference, the options for managing waste are prevention, preparing for reuse, recycling, other recovery (e.g. energy recovery) and disposal in landfills.

The Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EC) lays down standards to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste. It aims to prevent or reduce, as far as possible, negative effects of landfilling of waste over the whole lifecycle of landfills.

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Link to February 2023 infringements package