European Commission files action against Germany for nitrates in water

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The European Commission has pursued its intention to take action against Germany because of high nitrate levels in waters, filing what has been described as an ‘unusually sharp’ case with the European Court of Justice.

The action claims Germany has not implemented strict enough measures against nitrate contamination, particularly in relation to manure spreading and the use of agricultural fertilisers.

Germany is also accused of ignoring the 1991 Nitrates Directive, and the case filed takes issue with its three month moratoriums during which manure cannot be spread – the EC believes the ‘no spreading’ period should be between five and seven months long.

The action is over 1500 pages in length and broadcaster WDR reported that its tone was ‘unusually sharp’. Germany is required to respond by the end of December, otherwise a further action may follow.

The Commission had announced its intention to take action against Germany in April.


  • Germany, water resources, nitrates