Spain accused over EU bathing waters directive

Failure to comply with standards "cannot be explained" by drought, says court advisor

The European Court of Justice should find Spain guilty of failure to properly implement the 1976 EU bathing water directive, as alleged by the European Commission, an advocate general (court advisor) has recommended. In an opinion released last Thursday, Carl Otto Lenz rejects various justifications advanced by the Spanish government. It was not a "triumph," as maintained by Spain, that the level of non-compliance with two key quality standards was restricted to around 30% over several years despite a period of "exceptional" drought. In any case, "a good half" of the cases of non-compliance came from the north of the country, whereas drought has mainly been a problem in the south. The Commission "demanded only the strict minimum that can be expected of a member state" in complying with the directive, the advocate general argues, and "none of the reasons cited by the Spanish government can justify the observed non-compliance [with quality standards]." The case, which dates back to a formal warning delive red by the European Commission in 1990, will now be considered by the full court.

Follow Up:
European Court of Justice, tel: +352 43031.

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