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Commission is calling on Spain to comply with the requirements of the Water Treatment Directive

  • Commission is calling on Spain to comply with the requirements of the Water Treatment Directive

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European Commission
The European Commission is the EU's executive arm. It takes decisions on the Union's political and strategic direction.

The Commission is calling on Spain to comply with the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC - UWWTD). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that agglomerations (towns, cities, settlements) properly collect and treat their waste waters, thus eliminating or reducing all their undesirable effects. The European Green Deal and the recently adopted Zero Pollution Action Plan set as zero pollution ambition for the EU, which benefits public health, the environment and climate neutrality.

Spain should have been fully compliant with the UWWTD requirements since 2005. Overall, after a letter of formal notice sent in 2012 and a first reasoned opinion sent in 2015, Spain is still failing to fulfil its obligations regarding the collection and treatment for 332 agglomerations. 30 agglomerations lack collection systems for their urban waste waters, relying mostly or entirely on Individual Appropriate Systems (IAS) to treat waste water. Spain has failed to explain that non-establishing a collection system is justified under the Directive. Furthermore, the examination of the referred IAS have shown that they cannot achieve the same level of environmental protection of a collection system, a requirement imposed by the Directive. These 30 agglomerations are therefore not equipped with a system enabling all their urban waste water to be collected and treated in accordance with the Directive.

In addition, the 302 other agglomerations also fail to comply with the requirements of the Directive, as waste water does not enter the urban waste water collection systems, and/or is not treated correctly and fails to meet post-treatment standards. Based on the available information at the time, the Commission issued a first reasoned opinion to Spain in February 2015, which concerned 606 agglomerations. Since then, the Commission has reduced the number of agglomerations that fail to comply with the Directive. The Commission has today decided to issue an additional reasoned opinion to Spain for the outstanding agglomerations.

Spain has two months to reply and take the necessary measures, otherwise the Commission may refer the case to the Court of Justice.

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