Spain is the country with the most sanctions by the European Commission in environmental matters. Despite having closed 11 of them, it still maintains 25 files, among which are complaints from the European Court regarding Doñana, or the high level of pollution in cities such as Barcelona or Madrid. Spain leads in this way (tied with Greece) this dishonorable classification.
Spain chains its fifth consecutive year as the country with the most environmental records opened for breaching regulations. Although in 2019 the cases have been reduced from 32 to 25 (one of the lowest figures of the last decade).
Both in the European Union and in Spain, the largest group of cases refers to issues related to water, followed by the treatment of waste and the quality of the air that citizens breathe. The files cover a wide range that goes from the treatment to the control of polluting spills from agriculture, to the fraudulent and massive extraction of resources from the subsoil.
Despite this, it should be noted that Spain reached a record last year in resolved files, and that up to 11 of them were resolved without penalty due to actions by consistories, councils and government. Among the most worrying issues in this regard are:
The turtle dove
Brussels has asked for explanations from Spain for not protecting European turtledove populations. It had little effect on hunting permits in Spain. In 2019, the autonomous communities (the competent administrations in hunting and fishing) have continuedor authorizing the hunt for thousands of turtledoves. The Prosecutor sent a report in October to the autonomous governments for having maintained the situation in spite of the European file that indicated that Spain was not taking enough "measures to protect a vulnerable species".
Regarding waste, one of the most important issues to be discussed in our country is the recycling of one of the most polluting objects on Earth: batteries. The European Union open a file to our country for not sending enough information on these objects, that is, the collection rate data has not been communicated to encrypt the level set by the EU.
Landfills without control
This is one of the biggest problems in our country, since the number of illegal dumps multiplies every year. If in 2016 and 2017 the magistrates of the European Union ruled against the State for maintaining about 90 irregular landfills, since 2018 the process continues for at least 1.500 garbage deposits that the Commission asks for the land to be closed and regenerated. on those who settled. This means tons of waste, some very toxic in an irregular situation.
The water pillage of Doñana
It is one of the files with possible higher penalties. The proliferation of irrigated crops in the greenhouse - of strawberries or red fruits - and the expansion of hectares in need of water to maintain intensive agriculture has resulted in the massive extraction of water from aquifers. The complaint came in 2010 and, after two notices to the State, the case was referred to the judges in the absence of solutions. This comes at a time when other causes related to the most emblematic Natural Park in southern Spain are investigated.
The air pollution
Spain is also leading the most polluted cities in Europe. In July 2019, the European Commission ended the grace period that it had granted to Spain for breaching the air quality regulations: it announced that it would take the judges to the country for exceeding the levels of Nitrogen dioxide in Madrid and Barcelona. Although the breach was prolonged for a decade, the implementation of plans such as Madrid Central got an extension, but the closure of Central Madrid by the municipality of Almeida, has led to the reactivation of the case.
Spain was brought before the European Court in January of last year for not presenting the flood risk management plans in the Canary Islands. In recent months, floods in the Region of Murcia, Alicante, Almeria, Malaga or Tarragona have made headlines and opened news. The episodes of September 2019 or January 2020 have evidenced the growing danger of these phenomena.
Discharges of livestock and agriculture
There is also a long delay in launching programs to tackle the problem of water pollution due to nitrate leaks that came from livestock farms, especially pigs, and agricultural fertilizers. 40% of Spanish aquifers are at risk from this pollution.
The European Commission has repeatedly notified the Government of Spain on the deficiencies in matters of purification in almost 150 points of the country. The Spanish State has been paying more than 2005 million euros per semester in 11 in this area. This causes not only an unnecessary loss of resources but also puts the alarm on the negligence of regional councils and administrations in intervening this type infractions.
In addition to the economic damage so important that these sanctions cause, Spain needs to plan in a sustainable way the future of our urban centers, rural and agricultural areas and protected reserves. Matters as important as the management of our waters and that of our waste have to be a priority of our rulers, as well as modernization towards the sustainability of agricultural and livestock activities so that this decade is the turning point towards a future in which all let's fit.