The European Commission decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fulfil its obligations under Directive 2009/54/EC on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters. The European Union is now taking legal steps to guarantee consumers' right to information, protect them from being misled and to ensure fair-trading.
The Commission considers that the Bulgarian legislation does not comply with the rules, in particular since it does not prohibit the marketing of natural mineral and spring waters, which originate from one and the same spring, under more than one trade description, as required by the Directive. Moreover, contrary to the rules, the Bulgarian legislation does not require the indication of the name of the spring to be indicated on the labels of mineral and spring waters. It also allows to use the indication “spring water” for a water which does not satisfy the conditions for the use of that term.
In July 2020, the Commission addressed a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria. Having assessed the national legislation, and the reply from Bulgaria to the letter of formal notice, the Commission concluded that the national provisions were still not in line with the requirements of Directive 2009/54/EC.
In September 2021, the Commission delivered a reasoned opinion inviting Bulgaria to take the necessary steps to comply with the Union legislation. In particular, the Commission concluded that Bulgaria had failed to fulfil its obligations under the following provisions of Directive 2009/54/EC: prohibiting marketing natural mineral water from one and the same spring under more than one trade description, requiring to indicate on the labels of natural mineral waters the place where the spring is exploited and the name of the spring; and ensuring that the conditions to use the term “spring water” and in particular that the term “spring water” are reserved for a water which satisfies the labelling requirements the Directive.
Following assessment of the reply by Bulgaria to the reasoned opinion, the Commission concluded that the identified breaches of Directive 2009/54/EC have not been resolved. Consequently, the Commission decided today to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU under Article 258(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.