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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission urges Spain to complete legislation for river basin management plans

Brussels, 29 September – The European Commission is taking action against Spain over shortcomings in its transposition of EU water legislation. As Spain already received a communication from the Commission on the matter and has failed to adopt the measures required to meet EU standards, the Commission is referring the case to the EU Court of Justice, on the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik.

Member States had until the end of 2003 to bring into force the necessary laws, regulations and administrative provisions to comply with the Water Framework Directive. Spanish legislation transposing the Water Framework Directive still contains several shortcomings, especially as regards River Basin Management Plans. In Spain's legislation, a number of the obligations contained in these plans only apply to rivers that flow between different regions, and not to rivers that are completely within the territory of one region. The obligations in question cover matters like the conditions for granting exceptions, waters used for the abstraction of drinking water, and the monitoring of the ecological and chemical status of surface waters. Additional legislation will therefore be needed to ensure that Spanish legislation fully complies with the Directive.


Following up late transposition of EU legislation by Member States is a priority for the Commission.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is Europe's key tool for protecting the quality of its waters. It establishes a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, and obliges Member States to protect and restore all bodies of ground water and surface water (rivers, lakes, canals and coastal water) to achieve "good status" by 2015 at the latest, meaning that the waters show as few traces of human impact as possible.

The WFD obliged Member States to publish a management plan for each river district by December 2009. River basin management plans give a comprehensive overview of the main issues for each river basin district and should include the specific measures needed to achieve set environmental quality objectives. Where any exemptions are applied, a thorough justification must be provided.

Member States or regions sharing international rivers must work together to produce a single international river basin management plan. The delayed submission of plans could mean a failure to deliver the required water quality.

Further information

Water Framework Directive

See also

For further information on the consultation and adoption status of river basin management plans, visit:

More details on water policy:

For current statistics on infringements in general, see:

See also MEMO/11/646

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 295 06 68)

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