European Commission report on the implementation of EU water legislation

09 March - Brussels
 
The European Commission has published a Communication and two reports as part of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). The interim reports are submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council. They include a review of progress in the implementation of the Programmes of Measures planned by Member States in their River Basin Management Plans, and also provides suggestions for the improvement of future Programmes of Measures. 
 
The 2000 Water Framework Directive, requires effective water management to help Member States prepare for extreme weather events which, due to climate change, are becoming more frequent and cause tremendous damages, but also sets measures to ensure clean water in sufficient quantities for people and nature, and for use in economic sectors such as agriculture, aquaculture, energy, transport and tourism.
 
The progress review shows that EU legislation has improved water protection. Problems of quantity and quality are being addressed. As a result most Europeans can safely drink tap water and swim in thousands of coastal areas, rivers and lakes across the EU. Flood risks have been largely mapped, and plans to manage these risks are progressing. But warning lights are also flashing: decades of degradation and ineffective management mean that good environmental quality for all EU waters is still some way distant. This in turn generates extra costs for water purification, and risks endangering human health.
 
Particular problems include excessive abstraction for irrigation around the Mediterranean and Black Sea, widespread nutrient pollution from agriculture, and changes to river flow as a result of poorly planned hydropower or flood protection, or measures to encourage navigation.
 
While significant investments are still required in many areas, an overview of the 2007-13 financing period shows that Member States have not exploited available EU funding to support water objectives, for instance to treat waste water or to reduce flood risks by restoring flood plains and wetlands.
 
For more information, contact the EIA Secretariat