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European Commission - Press release

Commission refers Spain to Court for not reviewing and updating its River Basin Management Plans in the Canary Islands

Brussels, 8 March 2018

The European Commission decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice.

The European Commission decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the EU for not reviewing and updating the River Basin Management Plans for the seven river basin districts in the Canary Islands (El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, La Palma, Lanzarote, and Tenerife).

River basin management plans are the foundation of Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC). These plans give a comprehensive overview of the main issues for each river basin district and should include the specific measures needed to achieve environmental quality objectives.

Spain had to review and update all River Basin Management Plans on its territory by 22 December 2015 and to inform the Commission of these measures by 22 March 2016. The Spanish authorities have also failed to ensure compliance with the public information and consultation obligations for establishing these plans.

The Commission has repeatedly urged Spain to fulfil its obligations: firstly, by sending a letter of formal notice in April 2017 and secondly, by issuing a reasoned opinion - in October 2017.


The Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) is Europe's key tool for protecting the quality of its waters. Member States have to review and update their River Basin Management Plans at the latest 15 years after the date of entry into force of this Directive on 22 December 2000 and every six years thereafter. It also requires EU countries to encourage the active involvement of all interested parties. They have to publish and make available for comments a timetable and work programme for the production of management plans and the consultation measures to be taken, an overview of the significant water management issues identified, draft copies of the management plan, and, on request, access to background documents.

In October 2012, the Court of Justice of the EU declared the failure by Spain to adopt and communicate the first River Basin Management Plans (case C-403/11).

More information

-    General information on infringements proceedings in the areas of Environment

-    On the key decisions of the March infringements package, please refer to the full MEMO/18/1444

-    On the general infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12 (an info graph)

-    On the EU infringements procedure


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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