Enforcement of the European Waste Shipment Regulation
Not all waste shipments are legal and there is a risk that waste shipped to countries outside Europe, in particular, will be processed in a way that is harmful to human health and the environment. The European Union (EU) introduced the European Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR) in order to combat illegal waste flows. The Netherlands Court of Audit has investigated how the Dutch government enforces the EWSR. It found that the government pays specific and systematic attention to enforcement of the EWSR, but there are still areas for improvement.
Limited insight into impact of enforcement
The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M) has only limited insight into the impact of enforcement activities. For most waste flows, the enforcement partners (Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate, Customs and the police service) do not know precisely what impact enforcement has on compliance with the EWSR. It is therefore nor entirely clear whether enforcement of the EWSR deters illegal waste flows. This is partly because illegal flows are difficult to spot and partly because of weaknesses in the partners' ICT systems. Customs' ICT system, for example, cannot calculate compliance rates.
Limited insight into the functioning of the waste system as a whole
Insight into the functioning of the waste system as a whole is limited. There are indications that the system of receipt and processing notifications issued by importing countries does not function adequately. The minister therefore does not know for certain whether the company issuing the notification is also the company that actually processes the waste. Since there is no insight into this final link in the chain, the minister does not have a full understanding of the achievement of the EWSR's objectives.
Inexplicable high percentage of decisions not to prosecute EWSR cases
The Public Prosecution Service decides not to prosecute three out of ten EWSR cases. This is far higher than the service's own target for environmental cases of 10%. We found no explanation for this high rate and are concerned that it means either that EWSR offences go unpunished or that time is wasted preparing official reports for cases that have no chance of success.
- We recommend that the state secretaries for I&M and finance together improve information management so that it provides a clear insight into the impact of enforcement and of individual enforcement instruments.
- We recommend that the minister of I&M gain an understanding of the functioning of the EWSR system as a whole. The Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate can investigate this by sampling the plausibility of receipt and processing notifications.
- We recommend that the minister of V&J analyse the causes of the high percentage of decisions not to prosecute EWSR cases and seek ways to reduce it. The Public Prosecution Service should also better inform Customs and the Dutch Police Services Agency (KLPD) of the outcomes of EWSR cases so that they can take them into account when preparing new official reports.
- The state secretaries for I&M and finance agree with our recommendations on information management. The state secretary for I&M and the minister of V&J think the Inspectieview system and system modifications at Customs will improve insight into the impact of enforcement.
- The state secretary for I&M will not follow up our recommendation to improve insight into the functioning of the waste system as a whole. He notes that measures have already been taken to improve the enforcement activities, such as Inspectieview, the transfer of tasks from NL Agency to the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate and a study by the Strategic Environment Centre. We would note that there is a risk that these separate measures might not produce a coherent overview.
- The minister of V&J shares our concern about the high rate of decisions not to prosecute EWSR cases. The Public Prosecution Service is studying the causes and its findings will be used to improve criminal proceedings.