Law enforcement: case of applied penalties in Italy, France and Austria

EU member states have transposed EU law and introduced penalties for producers and importers of EEE, who do not fulfil their legal obligations. Selection of applicable sanctions are presented below:

Penalties applicable in Italian law:

  • Producers who do not register to the (W)EEE registry are subject to an administrative sanctions from 30.000 to 100.000 € (Average wage in Italy 1.736,18 €/month – Eurostat, 2014).
  • Producers who do not report correct and/or complete information within the (W)EEE registry are subject to an administrative sanction from 2.000 € to 20.000 €

Penalties applicable in French law:

  • A dedicated Committee of Vigilance and Control, like in Italy;
  • The compliance schemes which are in charge of monitoring and accounting for the activities of their associates and for their own performances;
  • The Ministry of Environment which monitors data provided by EEE producers and by the eco-organisms, as well as phenomena of free-riding among producers;
  • Public authorities and environmental inspectors in charge of verifying the compliance of institutional behaviours and e-waste treatment processes to the national law

Penalties applicable in Austrian law:

  • For manufacturers who do not comply with the obligations of the Austrian WEEE Ordinance and/or Packaging Ordinance (registry and participation with an authorized collection and recovery system), the following penal provisions of the Austrian Waste Management Act (AWG) apply:

AWG (Abfallwirtschaftsgesetz – Waste Management Law)

  • 79 (2) Any person who acts in contravention of the provisions of an ordinance as set out in § 4, § 5 (2), § 8, § 14 (1) or  (2b) or § 23 (1) or (2) (e.g. WEEE Ordinance), with the exception of recording, filing, presentation, documentation and reporting obligations, commits – where the action does not represent a criminal offence for which the courts have jurisdiction or which are punishable with a higher penalty in accordance with other administrative penal provisions – an administrative offence punishable with a fine of € 450 to € 8400;

If manufacturers and distributors have to meet obligations under § 14 (1) by participating in a collection and recovery system (§ 29), in the case of unjustified omission of participation in such a system, a fine of up to twice the due licensing fee can be imposed.

Furthermore, competitors or associations such as the Chamber of Labour can also sue noncompliant manufacturers for damages as well as injunctive relief under the Unfair Competition Act (UWG).

Again, authorities are entitled to withdraw the business license according to § 87 (1) of the Austrian Commerce Regulation Act (Gewerbeordnung) due to serious breaches of the relevant commercial legislation (and thereby deem the business owner to no longer possess the required reliability for the exercise of that trade).

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