Case C-121/03, Commission v Spain

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued its judgement in the case of Commission v Spain (Case C-121/03) on 8 September 2005.

The case arose out of complaints made to the European Commission regarding the pollution of the aquifer in the Baix Ter, at the mouth of the River Ter, in the Province of Gerona, as well as water distributed in numerous communes in the Empordà, in that province.

It was alleged that pollution by various substances, in particular nitrates, was caused by the development of intensive pig farms, which were directly discharging effluent to the aquatic environment, without monitoring or treatment of such discharges.

The Court held that by failing to carry out, prior to the construction of the pig farms in the Baix Ter area or their alteration, an impact assessment, contrary to the requirements of Articles 2 and 4(2) of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (Directive 85/337/EEC), and by exceeding, in various public water distribution networks in the Baix Ter area, the maximum admissible concentration for the nitrates parameter laid down in point 20 of Annex IC to Directive 80/778/EEC relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption, contrary to Article 7(6) of that directive, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under those directives.

The remainder of the case, which concerned alleged breaches of both the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 75/442/EEC) and the Groundwater Directive (Directive 80/68/EC) were dismissed by the Court.

The full judgement in the case is available in English at the link.

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