The European Commission has decided to refer Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Spain to the European Court of Justice for failing to adopt and notify national legislation implementing an EU law on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment.

The Commission said that the eleven Member States have failed to meet an agreed deadline of 17 October 2002 for the adoption and notification of national legislation.

Commenting on the decisions, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: “I have been repeatedly inviting Member States to live up to their obligations and I am disappointed that this has produced few results.

“The new framework directive on GMOs, which entered into force in October last year, provides the European Union with one of the most advanced and comprehensive pieces of legislation existing in this field at world level.

“This legislation has been the result of a transparent and democratic process, and provides a solid answer to public concerns about the environmental and health effects of GMOs. But our credibility will be severely undermined if we are not able to demonstrate that we can implement it. It is therefore high time that all Member States bring their national laws into line with the EU law.”

On 17 October 2002, a new directive revising the original framework for regulating the release of GMOs in the EU came into force. The Commission said the revised directive improves the strictness and transparency of the legislation, notably creating a more effective and efficient authorisation procedure.