The European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, referred Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The action addresses Spain’s non-compliance with urban wastewater treatment directives.

This decision comes after more than a decade since the initial sanctioning procedure was launched, with Spanish authorities yet to resolve the issues fully.

The directive’s objective is to protect human health and the environment, requiring the collection and treatment of urban wastewater before its release into the natural environment.

‘Untreated wastewater can endanger human health and contaminate lakes, rivers, soil and coastal and groundwater,’ the Commission stressed.

The Commission’s investigations unveiled widespread non-compliance in Spain. Specifically, 29 municipalities (28 in Tenerife and one in Andalucia) lack adequate wastewater collection systems.

Additionally, in 225 other localities, including 90 in Andalucia and 50 in Extremadura, 29 in the Canary Islands, 29 in Castilla-La Mancha, 16 in Castilla y Leon, 10 in Aragon, and one in Galicia, existing treatment facilities are inadequate.

Brussels have suggested that either new infrastructure or existing facilities need significant upgrades.

The European Commission’s journey began with a formal notice sent to Spain in June 2012, followed by reasoned opinions in February 2015 and June 2021.

Despite some advancements, Spain ‘remains without completely resolving the deficiencies.’ Therefore, the Commission has escalated the matter to the CJEU.

This action aligns with the European Green Deal and its Zero Pollution Action Plan, aiming to reduce air, water, and soil pollution to levels not harmful to health or ecosystems.