Case C-221/03, Commission v Belgium

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered its judgement in the case of Commission v Belgium (Case C-221/03) on 22 September 2005.

The Court has held that, by failing to adopt the necessary measures in order to implement Articles 3(1), 3(2), 4, 5 and 10 of Directive 91/676/EEC on the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (the Nitrates Directive), for the Flemish region of Belgium, and by failing to comply with Articles 3(1), 3(2) and 5 of that same Directive for the Walloon region of Belgium, Belgium has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Directive.

Articles 3(1) and 3(2) required Member States to identify waters affected by pollution and waters which could be affected by pollution if action pursuant Article 5 was not taken.

Thereafter Member States were to designate as vulnerable zones all known areas of land in their territories which drain into the waters identified in accordance with Article 3(1) and which contribute to pollution.

The initial designation of such vulnerable zones were to be notified to the Commission within six months. Belgium was found to have failed on both counts for both the Flemish region and the Walloon region.

For both regions, Belgium was also found to have failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 5 of the Directive, which required action programmes to be established in respect of designated vulnerable zones.

The part of the complaint relating to Article 5 in conjunction with Annex III, which alleged that the Flemish region action programme was only partly applicable in that region, in particular as regards the maximum quantities of livestock effluents that may be applied each year in vulnerable zones, was found by the Court to be unfounded.

Finally there was a failure to establish a code of good agricultural practice, under Article 4 of the Directive and a failure to report to the Commission in accordance with Article 10 of the Directive for the Flemish region of Belgium.

The full text of the judgement in Case C-221/03 can be found at the link.

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