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C 26 E/138 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 26.1.


bases on which the Community takes action in the various fields falling within its jurisdiction should
provide for decision-making by qualified majority in future. It regards its opinion as being very close to the
report on Parliament’s proposals for the IGC, adopted by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (2),
which proposes that unanimity in the Council be confined to decisions of a constitutional nature
(cf. item25.3 of the motion for a resolution).

(1) Adapting the Institutions to make a success of enlargement  COM(2000) 34 final.
(2) Report A5-0086/2000 (Dimitrakopoulos/Leinen), adopted by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs on 24 March

(2001/C 26 E/172) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0988/00
by Neil MacCormick (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(22 March 2000)

Subject: Waste water and small creameries

Small creameries in peripheral parts of the Union will have short term difficulties in adjusting production
methods to satisfy requirements imposed under Community regulations and directives regulating waste
water. The problem of converting surplus whey into reusable protein is technically solvable but will take
time to yield a commercially viable process useable by small-scale producers. There will be quite
widespread damage to SMEs and farms and diminution of employment opportunities in peripheral areas
if creameries are forced to close. This will almost certainly happen if they have to meet new standards

Will the Commission look favourably upon requests to defer full operation of the law in cases where
remoteness guarantees minimum ecological damage arising from such delay, and where production will
become prohibitively expensive if immediate implementation is demanded?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(25 April 2000)

At Community level, the discharge of waste water produced by the milk-processing industry is governed
by Directive 91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment (1).

Article 13 of the Directive, adopted in 1991, provides that by 31 December 2000 biodegradable industrial
waste water from plants in certain industrial sectors, including the milk-processing industry, which does
not enter urban waste water treatment plants before discharge into receiving waters, must meet conditions
established by the competent authority or appropriate body in the Member State. This requirement
concerns discharges from plants representing biodegradable organic pollution of 4 000 p. e. or more (p.
e. = population equivalent, a unit of measurement corresponding to the average organic pollution
discharged per person each day into domestic waste water).

The requirements for the discharge of such waste water had to be set by the competent authority or
appropriate body by 31 December 1993 at the latest. Those in charge of the plants concerned will
therefore have had seven years to comply with the requirements. The Directive does not provide for any
possibility of extending the deadline.

There is no Community legislation governing discharges from industrial plants in the sectors covered by
the Directive which produce pollution of less than 4 000 p. e. The proposal for a Directive establishing a
framework for Community action in the field of water policy, presented by the Commission on
15 April 1997 (2), provides for the possibility of making discharges subject to prior authorisation in cases
where they are likely to have an adverse effect on the receiving waters.

(1) OJ L 135, 30.5.1991.
(2) OJ C 184, 17.6.1997.