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French may face 28m-euro fine over nitrates

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French may face 28m-euro fine over nitrates

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Twenty years of ignoring Europe’s nitrates directive could bring France a lump fine worth 28 million euros. Brittany’s water is at stake. Brussels is threatening to ask for fines on top of the one-off fine – of more than 117,000 euros per day — until the French comply with EU rules dating from 1987.

Half the country’s pigs, half its poultry and nearly a third of its cattle are raised in Brittany, even if the region only has seven % of France’s agricultural surface area. The animal waste wash-off into rivers and ground water has grave implications for the public’s health. An EU parliament text, however, acknowledges that a change in farming practices could entail lost income for farmers.

A last-minute action plan proposed by Paris is being studied by Brussels; It could buy time, as experts said it was worth a look. But the environment commissioner’s spokesman said the Court of Justice could be called at any moment.