The Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday ordered Spain to pay a fine of 15 million euros for failing to adopt in time the directive on the protection of personal data to facilitate its exchange between police and judicial authorities to investigate and punish crimes.
In addition to the lump sum fine, the Luxembourg-based court has ordered Spain to pay a daily penalty of 89,000 euros if the non-compliance still exists today and until the directive on the protection of personal data in the framework of the prevention and detection of criminal offenses is transposed into national law.
The case dates back to July 2018, when the European Commission opened an infringement procedure against Spain for failing to communicate the adoption of these rules, which should have been adopted by the Member States by May 6, 2018. After a year of exchanges with the Spanish authorities, Brussels referred the matter to the European Courts in July 2019.
Spain did not deny having breached its obligations, but argued that the “very exceptional institutional circumstances” that existed had “delayed” the activities of the Government and Congress. Specifically, it argued that the Government was then “in office” and this fact was of “singular relevance when assessing the proportionality of the sanctions” proposed by the Community Executive.
In its judgment of this Thursday, the Court of Justice declares Spain’s failure to comply and stresses, in particular, that on March 25, 2019, the day that the European Commission had set as the deadline before bringing the case to Justice, the country still did not adopt the required measures.
To this, the Luxembourg court adds that Spain has “persisted” in the breach, since “on the date of completion of the written phase before the TEU, May 6, 2020, it had neither adopted nor communicated the measures necessary to ensure the transposition of the directive into Spanish law.”
Therefore, the European judges consider that an order to pay a coercive fine “constitutes an appropriate means of ensuring that the State puts an end, as soon as possible, to the declared non-compliance”.
On the other hand, the EU Court concludes that the imposition of a lump sum is justified as a “deterrent measure” to avoid “future repetition of similar infringements affecting the full effectiveness of EU law”.