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ClientEarth and Ecologistas en Acción v. Spain

Jurisdiction: European Court of Justice

Principle law(s): Geological storage of carbon dioxide (Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide and amending Council Directive 85/337/EEC, European Parliament and Council Directives 2000/60/EC, 2001/80/EC, 2004/35/EC, 2006/12/EC, 2008/1/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006)

Side A: ClientEarth and Ecologistas en Acción (Ngo)

Side B: Spain (Government)

Core objectives: Whether regional and national Spanish authorities have failed to adopt the necessary measures to protect Mar Menor in accordance with EU and national environmental laws

On October 6th 2021, Client Earth and Ecologistas en Acción filed a complaint to the European Commission over pollution in the Mar Menor Lagoon, located in the Region of Murcia, as a result of the increased socio-economic use of the area with a convergent increase of activities that include agriculture, tourism, fishing, or old mining operations. In particular, the plaintiffs argue that contrary to the obligations envisaged in the Nitrates Directive and relevant national nature laws, Spain has taken superficial steps to protect Mar Menor Lagoon from harmful agricultural practices and failed to take necessary measures to avoid deterioration of the lagoon’s ecosystem and protected animal species. The plaintiffs request the European Commission to launch infringement proceedings against Spain, in accordance with art. 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

In December 2021, the European Commission referred Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union for poor implementation of the Nitrates Directive. The Commission stated that “Spain must still take additional measures to prevent eutrophication for the whole country” and implement additional measures in those regions where the measures set in places “have proven insufficient to achieve the objectives of the Nitrates Directive”, including Murcia.

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