The Doñana National Park is a natural reserve in the south of Spain, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Despite its unique biodiversity and protected status, the area is plagued with many illegal wells and farms
which contribute to the unsustainable use of water
and to the overexploitation of the aquifer
Against this background and pointing to the lack of reaction from the Spanish authorities, the European Commission took the Spanish government to court over its failure to fulfil its obligations
under the Water Framework Directive
and the Habitats Directive
. In June 2021, the EU Court of Justice ruled
against Spain, due to the “excessive extractions of groundwater.”
But the situation is still catastrophic in Spain and actions to address the problem have not been effective so far. Spanish Members of the European Parliament recently alerted the Commission on the situation
, through multiple parliamentary questions (here
). In response, the Commission expressed its concerns
but has so far failed to take appropriate measures
to ensure the protection of the Doñana National Park.
What’s more is that a majority in the Andalusian Parliament is pushing for a legislative proposal
which would repeal the main measures of the current management plan, meaning that the illegal farms would be able to legally exploit water in the buffer zone
around the park, deteriorating further the situation, most likely by increasing the already unsustainable use of water and by threatening local fish populations.
That is why 30 civil society organisations, under the umbrella of the Living Rivers Europe coalition, have sent an open letter to Pascal Canfin
, the Chair of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament. They call on the European Parliament to “denounce the severe attack on this unique wetland
which might constitute a negative precedent
for the implementation of the EU environmental acquis.”
Read the letter in full here.