Spain worst in Europe for environmental violations

by Lorraine Williamson
environmental violations

MADRID – Throughout Europe, Spain remains the front runner when it comes to environmental violations. In particularpoor waste water management, insufficient control of nitrate discharges and poor waste management are highlighted in the dozens of outstanding files in Spain. 

By the end of 2020, Spain still had 30 open files regarding environmental violations. This was around 20% more than the previous year wrote Spanish newspaper ElDiario. The United Kingdom actually had more open files on environmental violations in 2020 (36). However, because  the UK is no longer part of the European Union, Spain takes the lead. Since 2007, it is the 9th time that the most environmental violations have been registered in Spain. 

Last year more environmental violations throughout the European Union 

Indeed, 2020 was a bad year in any case when it comes to environmental issues. The total number of registered violations in the European Union increased by over a third from 337 in 2019 to 451 in 2020. Most violations relate to waste management (36%), air quality (16%), water quality (14%) and nature damage (14%).

Inadequate waste water management in major Spanish cities and towns 

Over the past yearthe EC has issued continuous warnings to Spain over unresolved environmental violationsThese mainly relate to wastewater and its treatment and management in larger cities and towns. After a decision of the European Court, Spain will pay the highest fine in history for this until this is resolved.

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Poor control of nitrate discharges in Spain 

Spain was also given an ultimatum with regard to the control of nitrate discharges. This is predominantly due to contamination of the surface and groundwater by the remains of intensive agriculture and animal husbandry. As a result, fertilisers run off through the soil and can end up in the reservoirs. 

Spain still has many unresolved violation files 

Also, some of the 30 files with environmental violations are in addition to files that are still open from previous years. According to El Diario, procedures within the European Commission are relatively slow and countries are given sufficient time to resolve the situation before sanctions are imposed. 

Nevertheless, Spain still has dozens of open files on environmental violations. In recent years, delays have also arisen within the Spanish government in making new or amended regulations based on the environmental protection standards approved in Europe. 

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