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Purifying the waters

European Justice sanctions Spain for not complying with Community directives

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Purifying the waters

European justice has imposed a fine of 12 million euros to Spain for almost three decades of incompliance with Community rules regulating treatment of urban wastewater. The ruling was not a surprise for government, which already expected a millionaire sanction, but it highlights negligence of authorities to solve a problem that harms health of citizens and environment. Moreover, Commission has opened four or dossiers for negligent actions which may generate new penalties.

In determining economic amount EU court has weighed considerable duration of offence: 18 years since deadline laid down by directive to clean up domestic and industrial wastewater and seven since sentence was issued In which it pointed out 17 zones of more than 15,000 inhabitants that lacked collecting and treatment systems. Neverless, European Justice recognizes significant efforts made by Spain to reduce number of populations whose waters are poorly purified. Of 17 detected in 2013 has been passed to nine.

To plead difficulties of a legal or economic nature, as Spain has done in an attempt to justify its lack of diligence in order to solve this serious problem, is not serious and is not convincing. Neir strong budgetary cuts nor conflicts between communities and state are excuses for not respecting a directive dating back to 1991. The fine is a deterrent measure so that in future no infringements will be repeated. Pouring uncontrolled wastewater into rivers and seas, as well as deteriorating environment, does not leave for free.

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