The Commission brought an action under Article 226 EC for a declaration that Spain failed to fulfill its obligations under various EEC Directives.
The allegation was that Spain failed to adopt the measures necessary to transpose correctly the obligation arising from Articles 2 (1) and 4 (2) of the Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Public and Private Projects on the Environment and by maintaining in force legislation, in breach of those provisions, that did not enable an assessment of the environmental effects of certain projects to be carried out in the whole of the national territory.
The purpose of the Directive was to prevent pollution and other damage to the environment by making certain public or private projects subject to a prior assessment of their effects on the environment. Member States should adopt all measures necessary to ensure that, before consent was given, projects likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue, inter alia, of their nature, size or location were made subject to an assessment with regard to their effects.
Spain challenged the Commission’s case by pointing out that Article 4 (2) of the Directive granted Member States considerable latitude to decide whether the classes of projects listed must be made subject to an assessment.
The court analyzed the legislative measures taken by Spain and held inter alia that a considerable number of projects had been relieved from the obligation of assessment. The way the Directive had been transposed exceeded the limits of the Member States’ discretion.
The court held that by failing to adopt within the prescribed period all the laws, regulations and the administrative measures to comply with Article 2 (1) and 4 (2) of Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Public and Private Projects on the Environment, in conjunction with Annex II thereto, the Kingdom of Spain had failed to fulfill its obligations under that Directive.