In a statement, the community executive announced the decision to take action against Portugal at the CJEU for non-compliance with a December 5 ruling that called on the country to designate 61 “sites of community importance” as “special conservation” sites, as required by the European directive for habitat conservation.

The court also declared that Portugal did not adopt the necessary conservation measures for these sites.

Following the ruling, Portugal formally designated the 61 sites in question as special conservation zones through the adoption of a specific decree, but this designation is not sufficient to comply with the ruling, because Portugal also needs to adopt conservation objectives and measures, says the Commission.

Therefore, Ursula von der Leyen's executive “decided to refer the matter again” to the CJEU.

Because this is the second action brought before the court on the same matter for Portugal “it may result in the application of financial sanctions for the time that elapses after the date of the first ruling until compliance is verified”.

In another statement, Brussels also announced that Portugal is among a group of countries, including Spain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Malta and Slovakia, targeted by the CJEU for failure to comply with the review of river basin management plans.

The directive in question argued the Commission, “focuses on ensuring good qualitative and quantitative health of European water bodies, such as rivers and lakes”, and has the purpose of eliminating pollution, “as well as guaranteeing the availability of sufficient water to simultaneously satisfy human and wildlife needs.”

The countries in question “continue to fail to fulfil their obligations under the directives” and the efforts made by the Portuguese authorities to date “have been insufficient”.