Spain / Supreme Court / 1308/2017 Regional Government of Aragón v Endesa Generación

Key facts of the case: 

A Spanish electric company demands the money paid for a regional tax existing in the Autonomous Community of Aragon to protect the environment from polluting emmissions, governed by Royal Decree 1/2007, of 18 September, regulating environmental taxation legislation in the Autonomous Community of Aragon. Endesa Generación S.A. considered this tax discriminatory and therefore, unconstitutional because in order to prevent environmental damage, every electric company is subject to it, taxing energy production regardless of their real responsibility to pollution, particularly in relation to the right to a fair tax system (Article 31 Spanish Constitution).

The said enterprise started litigating both through administrative and judicial procedures until the case reached the Spanish Supreme Court on the grounds of an alleged infringement of European Law; in particular, Article 36 of Directive 2009/72/EC on rules for the EU’s electricity market, and Articles 3 and 5 of the Directive 2005/89/EC concerning measures to safeguard the security of the electricity supply and infrastructure investment.

Outcome of the case:

The Court affirmed the action appealed from by Endesa Generación S.A.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

And amongst the legal reasonings, there are the so-called ‘indirect’ infringements that are in the aforementioned terms referring to Articles 17, 20 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and to Directives 2005/89 and 2009/72.

The current review of the ‘direct’ infringements has to be referred to exclusively within the study of the legal reasons provided in the appealed judgement to reject the challenge against Directives 2009/72 and 2005/89 and to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and this is how the nature of this remedy should be understood.

This being said, it should be pointed out that the appealed judgement uses as a basic argument to reject the direct infringements (those referring to Directives 2009/72 and 2005/89 and to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the E U) that the controversial tax on environmental damage caused by polluting emissions to the atmosphere (IECA – which is the tax name) established in the Autonomous Community of Aragon has an environmental goal.

Given this important precondition (the tax having an environmental aim in the eyes of the Court) that the Court uses to reject the infringements, also invoking the thesis and goals of the Directives on protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, set out in the TFEU and reaffirmed under the Spanish legislation cited, like the inadequate excuse by the appellant of the surcharge allegedly caused by the controversial tax. The environmental purpose of the tax makes it impossible to affirm its discriminatory nature.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

Y también hay en uno y otro motivo lo que se denominan infracciones "indirectas", que son referidas, en los términos que antes se expusieron, a los artículos 17, 20 y 21 de la Carta de los Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea y a las Directivas 2005/89 y 2009/72.

El actual examen de las infracciones "directas" ha de quedar circunscrito al estudio de las únicas razones que la sentencia recurrida desarrolla cuando enjuicia, para rechazarlas, las impugnaciones referidas a las Directivas 2009/72  y 2005/89 y a la Carta de Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea ; y así ha de ser recordado de nuevo lo que antes se dijo sobre la naturaleza que corresponde al recurso de casación.

Tras esta puntualización, debe señalarse que la sentencia recurrida utiliza como argumento básico para rechazar dichas infracciones directas (esto es, las referidas a las Directivas 2009/72 y 2005/89  y a la Carta de Derechos Fundamentales de la Unión Europea que el aquí controvertido Impuesto sobre el daño medioambiental causado por la emisión de contaminantes a la atmósfera [IECA] establecido en la Comunidad Autónoma de Aragón tiene una finalidad ambiental.

Siendo a partir de esa importante premisa como rechaza las infracciones, invocando en lo que hace a las Directivas, tanto los postulados y objetivos sobre la protección y la mejora de la calidad del medio ambiente contenidos en el Tratado de Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea (reiterados en la leyes españolas que cita), como la no debida justificación por la recurrente de la carga excesiva que imputa al polémico tributo medioambiental (FJ séptimo); y aduciendo (en el FJ octavo), en lo que concierne a la Carta, que esa finalidad ambiental impone rechazar que el discutido impuesto tenga carácter discriminatorio.

Language: 
Spanish
Deciding body (original language): 
Tribunal Supremo
Language: 
Spanish