Case C-26/04, Commission v Spain

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered his opinion on 7 July 2005 in the case of Commission v Spain.

The Commission had sought a declaration of the Court that, by failing to officially designate the beaches of 'A Videira', 'Niño do Corvo' and 'Canabal' located in Moaña, Ría de Vigo, on the Galician coast of Spain as bathing waters and by failing to adopt a pollution reduction programme for the Ría de Vigo, Spain had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 4(1) of the Bathing Waters Directive (Directive 76/160/EEC) and Article 5 of the Shellfish Waters Directive (Directive 79/923/EEC).

The Advocate General has recommended that the Court should declare that, by failing to adopt by the prescribed date a pollution reduction programme for the Ría de Vigo, Spain has indeed failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 5 of the Shellfish Waters Directive.

However, the Advocate General has recommended that the remainder of the Commission's application be dismissed.

In particular, the arguments put forward in support of the assertion that there has been a breach of the Bathing Waters Directive have been dismissed, with the Advocate General remaining unconvinced that there is an obligation to 'officially designate' bathing waters within the provisions of the Bathing Water Directive or which can be inferred from the objectives of the Directive.

However it remains to be seen whether the ECJ will follow this view, and if the Court were to find that there is an implicit obligation under the Bathing Water Directive to 'officially designate' the relevant bathing waters, it should conclude that by failing to do so as regards the beaches of 'A Videira', 'Niño do Corvo' and 'Canabal' located in Moaña, Ría de Vigo, on the Galician coast, Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 4(1) thereof.

The Opinion of the Advocate General is available in English at the curia.eu.int website.


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