Waste: Commission decides to refer SPAIN to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to apply the waste management requirements

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with the requirements of the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC).

The Waste Framework Directive requires Member States to take all necessary measures to ensure that waste management does not endanger human health or harm the environment. Member States also need to ensure that waste is safely disposed of, and that original waste producers treat the waste themselves or ensure that the treatment is properly handled.

Spain has failed to take the necessary measures to comply with these requirements of the Waste Framework Directive. The persistence of, at least, 195 illegal landfills that have not yet been closed, sealed and restored since 2008 is causing significant harm to the environment while endangering human health. It also shows that Spain has failed to fulfil its scrutiny, inspection and enforcement duties concerning waste dumping. This creates health and environmental hazards, which the European Green Deal aims to address.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Spain in December 2015, followed by a reasoned opinion in November 2018. Despite some progress, the Spanish authorities have not fully addressed the shortcomings. The Commission considers that efforts by the Spanish authorities have to date been insufficient and is therefore referring Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union.


The Waste Framework Directive aims to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste and by reducing overall impacts of resource use and improving the efficiency of such use.

Today's decision to refer Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union follows two waste related infringement procedures where the Court found that Spain was in breach of its obligations under Union law with regards to the persistence of non-conform and illegal waste landfills (INFR(2006)2311 and INFR(2011)2071). 

More Information

EU infringement procedure

Infringement decisions database  

Link to the February 2024 infringement package

Infringement decision Spain (INFR(2015)2192)

Environmental infringements interactive map