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Environmental Protection and the Free Movement of Goods : Emphasis on Waste Management

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Title: Environmental Protection and the Free Movement of Goods : Emphasis on Waste Management
Author(s): Siltala, Susanna
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Discipline: European law
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2015
The free movement of goods is one of the economic freedoms of the internal market guaranteed in the EU. It has been one of the founding objectives of the Union, which has preserved its status as a fundamental principle. The role of environmental protection as an EU objective has however increased gradually, reflecting the changing view of the society. It is currently one of the key policy areas in the Lisbon Treaty, and it has also developed into a fundamental right recognized in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The free movement of goods and environmental protection may sometimes collide with each other, and this thesis aims at interpreting how environmental protection can serve as a justification to restrictions on the free movement of goods, especially in relation to waste management. It discusses how environmental protection has developed from a mere mandatory requirement in Danish Bottles (C-302/86) to an objective recognized as having a fundamental nature in Brenner Heavy Lorries (C-28/09). Waste is an environmental, social and economic challenge for the EU. Others consider it a dangerous burden, while for some it can be a valuable resource when re-use, recycling and other recovery operations are applied. The EU has made significant progress to optimize its waste management policies, but the amount of waste going into landfills has not been reduced, and waste volumes have continued to increase. Waste related EU legislation is weakly implemented in some Member States, and there exists various differences between Member State transpositions. EU waste policy is based on the hierarchy of waste, in which waste prevention is set as the highest priority and is followed by preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery and lastly disposal. The EU has also introduced a life-cycle approach, which takes into account the environmental impact of each phase in a product’s life-cycle. This thesis will analyze how Member State waste management measures can lead to restrictions to the free movement of goods, and in what circumstances they can be justified for environmental protective reasons.

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