24 enero 2013

Jurisprudencia al día Tribunal de Justicia de la Unión Europea ( TJUE )

Jurisprudencia al día. Unión Europea. Aguas residuales

Sentencia de 19 de diciembre de 2012, asunto C-374/11, Comisión Europa/Irlanda

Autor: J. José Pernas García, profesor titular de Derecho administrativo de la Universidade da Coruña

Fuente: http://curia.europa.eu

Palabras clave: incumplimiento de Estado; Directiva 75/442; aguas residuales urbanas eliminadas en el medio rural a través de fosas sépticas; inejecución de sentencia condenatoria del TJUE; artículo 260.2, TFUE; sanción económica; multas coercitiva

Resumen:

En este asunto la Comisión solicita que se declare que Irlanda ha incumplido las obligaciones que le incumben en virtud del artículo 260 TFUE al no haber adoptado las medidas necesarias para la ejecución de la sentencia del Tribunal de Justicia, Comisión/Irlanda (C-188/08). En dicha sentencia el TJCE declaraba que Irlanda había incumplido las obligaciones que le incumben en virtud de la Directiva 75/442/CEE del Consejo, de 15 de julio de 1975, relativa a los residuos, en su versión modificada por la Directiva 91/156/CEE del Consejo, de 18 de marzo de 1991, por lo que atañe a las aguas residuales urbanas eliminadas en el medio rural a través de fosas sépticas y de otros sistemas de tratamiento individuales de las propias aguas residuales al no haber adoptado, todas las disposiciones legales, reglamentarias y administrativas necesarias para dar cumplimiento a lo dispuesto en los artículos 4 y 8 de la citada Directiva.

Tras haber transcurrido un año y medio sin que Irlanda haya dado cumplimiento a la sentencia del Tribunal, la Comisión solicita que se ordene a Irlanda pagar a la Comisión una cantidad a tanto alzado de 4.771,20 euros multiplicada por el número de días que transcurran entre la fecha de la sentencia recaída en el asunto C-188/08 y la fecha de la sentencia que se dicte en el presente procedimiento (o bien la fecha en que Irlanda ejecute plenamente la sentencia recaída en el asunto C-188/08, si tal ejecución tiene lugar durante la tramitación del presente procedimiento). Asimismo, la Comisión pide que se ordene a Irlanda pagar a la Comisión una multa coercitiva diaria de 26.173,44 euros desde el día en que se dicte sentencia en el presente procedimiento hasta la fecha en que Irlanda ejecute la sentencia recaída en el asunto C-188/08.

El TJUE condena a Irlanda por inejecución de la sentencia recaída en el asunto C-188/08, ordenándola a pagar una multa coercitiva y una cantidad a tanto alzado, tras tomar en consideración la gravedad del incumplimiento y las circunstancias concurrentes en el caso.

Destacamos los siguientes extractos: 

Destacamos a continuación los siguientes extractos de la sentencia (en inglés, ya no está disponible la versión en español):

“21 Furthermore, with regard to Ireland’s argument that the action is premature, it must be pointed out that, even though Article 260(1) TFEU does not specify the period within which a judgment must be complied with, it follows from settled case-law that the importance of immediate and uniform application of European Union law means that the process of compliance must be initiated at once and completed as soon as possible (see, to that effect, Case C‑278/01 Commission v Spain [2003] ECR I‑14141, paragraph 27 and the case‑law cited).

22 In the present case, however, a period of approximately 21 months elapsed between the delivery of the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland and the lodging of the Commission’s application. Even though the implementation of the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland involved complex operations, such a period cannot, in the circumstances of the present case, be considered to be insufficient.

23 In those circumstances, it must be held that, by failing to adopt all of the measures necessary to ensure compliance with the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland, Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 260(1) TFEU.

(…)

The penalty payment

– The principle of the imposition of a penalty payment

33 According to settled case-law, the imposition of a penalty payment is, in principle, justified only in so far as the failure to comply with an earlier judgment of the Court continues up to the time of the Court’s examination of the facts (Case C‑496/09 Commission v Italy [2011] ECR I‑0000, paragraph 42, and Case C‑610/10 Commission v Spain, paragraph 96).

34 It must be held in the present case that, at the time of that examination, the measures necessary for the implementation of the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland had not yet been adopted in full. In particular, it is common ground that the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 requires implementation of texts not all of which have yet been adopted and that the national inspection plan for IWWTS has still to be developed. It also does not appear that a definitive deadline for the registration of IWWTS has been set.

35 In those circumstances, the Court takes the view that the imposition of a penalty payment on Ireland constitutes an appropriate financial means to ensure full compliance with the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland (see, to that effect, Commission v Italy, paragraph 45, and Case C‑610/10 Commission v Spain, paragraph 114).

–  The amount of the penalty payment

36 It should be recalled that, in exercising its discretion in the matter, it is for the Court to set the penalty payment so that it is both appropriate to the circumstances and proportionate to the infringement established and the ability of the Member State concerned to pay (see Commission v Italy, paragraph 56 and the case-law cited).

37 In the assessment carried out by the Court, the criteria which must be taken into account in order to ensure that a penalty payment has coercive force with a view to the uniform and effective application of European Union law are, in principle, the duration of the infringement, its degree of seriousness and the ability of the Member State concerned to pay. For the purpose of applying those criteria, the Court is required to have regard in particular to the effects of non-compliance on the public and private interests at issue and to the urgency of compliance by the Member State concerned with its obligations (see Commission v Italy, paragraph 57).

38 In the present case, the failure to fulfil obligations identified in the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland concerns the incomplete transposition of Directive 75/442, Article 2 of which provided for a transposition period expiring no later than 1 April 1993. Since, more than 19 years after that date, Ireland has still not complied with all of its obligations under that directive – the principal objectives of which are the protection of human health and of the environment – the Court cannot but confirm the particularly lengthy character of an infringement which, in the light of such objectives, is also a matter of indisputable gravity.

(…)

42 In so doing, Ireland does not dispute that it has yet to finalise the measures necessary to ensure compliance with the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland establishing a failure to fulfil the requirements arising from Articles 4 and 8 of Directive 75/442. It is common ground in this regard that the transposition of that directive by the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 can be regarded as effective only when the measures referred to at paragraph 34 of the present judgment are adopted.

43 Having regard to all of the circumstances of the present case, the Court considers that it is appropriate to impose a daily penalty payment of EUR 12 000 to ensure implementation of the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland, that sum taking into account Ireland’s capacity to pay as it stands at the date of the Court’s examination of the facts (see, to that effect, Case C‑610/10 Commission v Spain, paragraph 131).

44 In the present case, the data provided by Ireland, which have not been substantively disputed by the Commission, show that that Member State’s capacity to pay was reduced in the context of economic crisis (see also, to that effect, judgment of 19 December 2012 in Case C‑279/11 Commission v Ireland [2012] ECR I‑0000, paragraph 79).

45 In those circumstances, Ireland must be ordered to pay to the Commission, into the ‘European Union own resources’ account, a penalty payment of EUR 12 000 for each day of delay in adopting the measures necessary to ensure compliance with the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland from the date on which judgment is delivered in the present case until the date of full compliance with the judgment in Case C‑188/08 Commission v Ireland.

(…)

–  The amount of the lump sum payment

50  If the Court decides to order a lump sum payment, it must, in the exercise of its discretion, set that payment in such a way that it is, first, appropriate to the circumstances and, secondly, proportionate both to the infringement that has been established and to the ability of the Member State concerned to pay (Commission v Greece, paragraph 146).

51 The relevant factors to be taken into account in that regard include, in particular, factors such as how long the breach of obligations has persisted since the judgment which initially established it was delivered and the public and private interests involved (Case C‑121/07 Commission v France [2008] ECR I‑9159, paragraph 64 and the case‑law cited).

52 In the present case, in the light of all of the foregoing and, in particular, of the considerations set out in paragraphs 38 to 45 of the present judgment, proper account of the circumstances of the present case will be taken by setting the amount of the lump sum which Ireland will have to pay at EUR 2 000 000.

53 It is therefore appropriate to order Ireland to pay to the Commission, into the account ‘European Union own resources’, a lump sum of EUR 2 000 000.”

Comentario del autor:

Es un asunto similar al de la sentencia de 19 de diciembre de 2002 (asunto 279/11) [fuente: http://www.actualidadjuridicaambiental.com/?p=9064#more-9064 ], por lo que nos remitimos a los comentarios realizados en él.

Documento adjunto: pdf_e