Europe

Europe Opens New Infringement Procedure Over Italy's Handling of Xylella

Italy has 60 days to respond to a formal letter and take steps to implement the requirements imposed by the European Commission.

Aug. 1, 2016
By Ylenia Granitto

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The European Union has opened an infringe­ment pro­ce­dure against Italy over an alleged delay in apply­ing mea­sures against the spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa in Apulia.

Some days ago, the European Commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis met the Italian Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina and informed him that “the Commission would have no choice but to open an infringe­ment pro­ce­dure unless imme­di­ate actions were taken by Italy against the bac­terium.”
See more: Complete Coverage of the Xylella Fastidiosa Outbreak
Italy has 60 days to respond to the letter of formal notice and take steps through the imple­men­ta­tion of the require­ments imposed by the European Commission. Otherwise, the EU will pass to the next mea­sure, send­ing a rea­soned opin­ion on the matter.

The Italian gov­ern­ment has con­vened the Apulia Region for a meet­ing next week in Rome, where actions and activ­i­ties to con­trast the spread of the bac­terium must be sub­mit­ted.

A first infringe­ment pro­ce­dure was opened at the end of 2015 and, based on the Commission Decision 2015/789, reproached the delays and ordered an uproot­ing of all the trees, even healthy ones, within one hun­dred meters around the infected plants.

Later, with its deci­sion 764/2016, the EU estab­lished the need to create a buffer zone to the north of the infected area in Salento, with a width of not less than 10 Km (6.2 miles) and, within the infected area, a con­tain­ment area with a width of 20 Km.

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The Prosecutor of Lecce Cataldo Motta and public pros­e­cu­tors Elsa Valeria Mignone and Roberta Licci have just ordered the release of the olive trees which have been seized in December, fol­low­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion of any pos­si­ble respon­si­bil­ity in the spread of Xf and real causes of the so-called CoDiRO (Rapid Complex Desiccation of Olive Trees). This mea­sure is not a direct result of the open­ing of the new infringe­ment pro­ce­dure against Italy, but it is a sep­a­rate deci­sion med­i­tated for months by pros­e­cu­tors.

The pros­e­cu­tor intends to send to the European Commission the results of exper­i­men­tal nat­ural treat­ments and ‘good farm­ing prac­tices’ car­ried out in recent months on infected trees, which showed vis­i­ble signs of improve­ment.

Through mon­i­tor­ing in the field, it was found that some plants fully recov­ered with prun­ing and clean­ing of the ground com­bined with nat­ural meth­ods. In par­tic­u­lar, in the area between Brindisi and Lecce, the sit­u­a­tion has changed as olive trees made a com­plete recov­ery and these results could affect the next EU direc­tives.

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