The EU’s Court of Justice has imposed a €15m ($18.0m) financial penalty on Spain for not adopting a European Commission (EC) directive about the protection of personal data. The court also ruled Madrid must pay €89,000 daily while it fails to comply.

The Spanish government missed two deadlines, one in May 2018, the other in March 2019, to incorporate the EC order into national law. It still had not done so when the court finished accepting written evidence in May 2020.

Spain told the court it was unable to adopt the directive – concerning protection of personal data processed by law enforcement agencies when preventing or detecting criminal offences – because of “very exceptional institutional circumstances” restricting activities of the national government and parliament at the time.

The government had a minority in the chamber of deputies and was only dealing with day-to-day business pending formation of a new government. Transposing the EC directive into national law was therefore delayed.

“By today’s [25 February] judgment, the court declares that Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations,” the court stated.

The case is the first time it has concurrently imposed a lump sum payment and daily penalties, an order which reflects “the seriousness and duration of the infringement,” the court said. 

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