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Another principle closely linked to that of prevention is the principle that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source: the proximity principle. According to Article 191 (2) TFEU, this is a basis for EU environmental policy. The main purpose is to tackle environmentally harmful effects as soon as possible, before they have spread or caused long-term damage. The Court of Justice has opined that according to the precautionary principle and the principle of prevention, it is the obligation of the EU and the Member States to prevent, reduce, and, to the extent possible, eliminate pollution and nuisance at source by taking measures to eliminate the known risks.n8 It has been questioned whether this principle actually permeates the whole corpus of EU environmental rules, which today are largely based on quality standards that, as opposed to emission norms, cannot be considered as guarantees of rectification at source.119

In practice, the principle is used primarily in connection with regulating waste. 12° In the Vallon Waste case, the Court of Justice based its justification of a regional prohibition of waste import on the proximity principle. 121 The Court admitted that as regards waste, there is a close relation between the principle of proximity and the principle of self-sufficiency, set out in the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Transport and Final Disposal of Hazardous Waste.122 The Court referred to the same principle in a case between the Commission and Germany. There, it concluded that a German law stipulating that waste should be disposed of within the national territory reflected ‘the pursuit of an objective which is in conformity with the principle laid down in Article [191 (2) TFEU] that environmental damage should, as a priority, be rectified at source’.^3

The principle has been integrated in the EU legal acts on waste that contain detailed rules on how Member States can restrict the freedom of movement for waste with reference to principles of self-sufficiency and proximity.04 In brief, the Member States have significant possibilities to prevent import of waste transported for disposal (for instance in a landfill). On the other hand, when waste is transported to be recycled, the principles of self-sufficiency and proximity are not applicable.°5

Under EU waste-related rules, Member States are also obliged to establish a common network of disposal installations for waste so that the EU as a whole becomes self-sufficient in respect of managing its waste and also that each Member State approaches this aim.06 As regards non-hazardous household waste that in principle does not require treatment in specialised installations, Member States must seek to establish a network for disposal as closely as possible to where the waste is produced. They can organise the networks through cooperation between regions or with other States according to the principle of proximity.07

Today, there appears to be no possibility, except for the procedures based on the EU’s specialised rules relating to transport of waste, to limit such transport among Member States by reference to the principles of proximity and self-sufficiency.08

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