Indeed, the legal framework has changed a great deal in recent decades. It has gone from the existence of incipient legal provisions to the development of a complex administrative structure, especially autonomous, from the 1978 constitutional framework, with competences for the legislative development in the field of the environment, for its management, and for the control of this application. The entry of the Spanish State in 1986 into the European Economic Community has meant, something extreme slowness and negligence, the incorporation of a large number of increasingly demanding environmental regulations.
In the criminal field, the approval of the 1995 Criminal Code is a really important milestone, which, extending the existing ecological crimes up to that date, included several dozen criminal types against the environment and against land-use planning.
However, this improvement in the legal instruments for the protection of the environment, the indicators of this state show a notable deterioration of the environment. For example, according to reports by the European Environment Agency, the parameters that measure the quality of the environment and ecosystems are worsening at European level, with the exception of only a few atmospheric pollutants. And let us not mention the evolution of CO2 emissions and the alterations in the climate resulting from them.
In fact, policies and instruments for the protection of the environment, there are others (urban, energy, transport, industrial, etc.), both at the international level (e.g. conditions under which trade takes place) and at the internal level (e.g. investment in infrastructure, price regulations, taxation), which go in the opposite direction and produce effects opposite to them.
Basically, we can affirm that this environmental law is systematically breached at all levels of competence referred to above: community, state, autonomous and local. This may seem to be a very categorical affirmation, but not only is this the sensation that exists among environmental organizations and among many legal professionals, but it is also verifiable by data such as the number of cases opened against the Spanish State in the European Commission for infringement of Community law or the high number of complaints for environmental, administrative or criminal violations before various bodies (Ministries of the Environment, Hydrographic Confederations, Courts and Public Prosecutors’ Offices) and the few cases in which its processing prospers and a sanction becomes effective.