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Germany passes environmental liability laws


BERLIN—Germany's Bundesrat, the second chamber of Parliament, passed the European Union's Environmental Liability Directive on Friday, according to a spokesman for the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The environmental liability law, or "Umweltschadensgesetz," will enter into force six months after being published in the so-called "Bundesgesetzblatt," or federal law registry, sometime in April. Once it enters into force, the law will be retroactive since the publishing date, the ministry spokesman said.

Germany's law does not go beyond the scope of the original E.U. directive, according to legal experts.

Members of the European Union must transpose the new European Environmental Liability Directive into their national law by April 30. The European Commission has, however, given the insurance industry until 2010 to develop products to cover the liabilities.

The Environmental Liability Directive, adopted in April 2004, aims to create incentives to avoid environmental damage based on the so-called "polluter pays principle." It ensures that environmental damage is repaired at the expense of the polluter, rather than society.