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The Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste: Implementation and Enforcement of Control Regimes in the European Community

November 1992

Citation: ELR 10701

Author: Ira R. Feldman and Lawrence I. Sperling

Editors' Summary: The European Community (EC or the Community), in building its supranational political structure in preparation for full economic integration, increasingly regulates the conduct of individuals and corporations and obligates member nations to implement its regulatory decisions. This regulation is most evident in the environmental arena, and perhaps most significant to those doing business in Europe. Initiatives developed by the EC to control the transboundary trade and transport of hazardous wastes have been important vehicles in the development of the EC's supranational identity in environmental matters. This is due to the economics of such shipments, the relatively small size of the EC and the proximity of the member states to one another, and public concern about exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries and Eastern Europe. The authors, focusing on the experiences of the Netherlands and its stringent standards for hazardous waste management analyze the EC member states' experience in implementing existing EC hazardous waste transport legislation, which requires the prior informed consent of the parties involved. The authors analyze the difficulties experienced in both the formal and practical implementation of the existing EC transboundary waste legislation, and suggest that the aggressive Dutch enforcement program is exemplary. They then review recent international developments that will affect the EC's future approach to controlling transboundary movement of hazardous waste, particularly the Basel Convention, the fourth Lome Convention, and the 1992 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development decision concerning control of wastes destined for recovery operations. Finally, noting the lessons the EC's experience provides for the world's efforts to control hazardous waste transport, the authors warn that those doing business in Europe must understand and comply with the existing EC transboundary hazardous waste transport regime, stay ahead of the curve to withstand increasingly heightened scrutiny and pressure, and seek ways to minimize the generation of hazardous waste.

The authors are staff attorneys in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement. The views expressed in the Article are solely those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Environmental Protection Agency. The authors wish to thank Kathie Stein, Michele Anders, Wendy Grieder, and Peter Lallas for their assistance in researching and providing comments on this Article.

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