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EU Commission refers SPAIN to the Court of Justice for its failure to comply with UWWT Directive

  • EU Commission refers SPAIN to the Court of Justice for its failure to comply with UWWT 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 European Commission decided to refer Spain (INFR(2012)2100) to the Court of Justice of the European Union for its failure to fully comply with the collection and treatment obligations set in the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (Directive 91/271/EEC). The Directive aims to protect people's health and the environment by requiring that urban waste water is collected and treated before discharge into the environment. Untreated waste water can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil, and coastal and groundwater.

Information gathered by the Commission has shown widespread failures to comply with the Directive in Spain. In the case of 29 agglomerations, Spain still needs to ensure that they benefit from wastewater collection systems and that, where the use of individual or other appropriate systems is justified, they achieve the same level of environmental protection of a collecting system.

For 225 agglomerations, Spain is still failing to provide the entire agglomerations' pollution load with the required treatment level and/or fails to meet the treatment performance for the discharges after treatment. This means that there are agglomerations where infrastructure needs to be built or improved. This may require substantial efforts in building out new physical infrastructure or upgrading already existing treatment facilities.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Spain in June 2012, followed by a reasoned opinion in February 2015 and an additional reasoned opinion in June 2021. Despite some progress, the Spanish authorities have not yet fully addressed the grievances. Therefore, the Commission is referring Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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