EU threatens Spain with lawsuit over nitrate discharge by pig breeders

The European Commission is going to refer Spain to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for insufficient enforcement of the Nitrates Directive. As a result, the nitrate approach of the largest EU pig producer is again coming under fire from the European Commission.

According to the Commission, despite previous warnings, Spain has made too little progress in recent years and now needs to take additional measures to prevent further pollution. 

The European Nitrates Directive includes the target of zero pollution, which is laid down in the European Green Deal. The European Commission has also previously announced legal action against Germany. 

The Commission has already pointed out to Spain in November 2018 and in June 2020 that it did not comply with the Nitrates Directive. In addition, the Spanish government must now investigate regional nitrate-sensitive gebieden (with many pig farms) and identify other ('red') gebieden. It must also now draw up a concrete action plan and submit it to Brussels for approval, especially for those regions where action has so far proved insufficient.

An important part of the Green Deal is the Nitrates Directive. Its aim is to protect water quality by combating contamination of ground and surface water with nitrates from agricultural sources. The EU countries are themselves responsible for complying with the directive.

For example, the Commission is calling on countries to better monitor their waters and actively monitor nitrate pollution from agricultural sources.