EEB proposes nine immediate actions to make EU water policy work

In Brussels this week the European Environment Bureau presented Environment Ministers of the EU and accession countries with nine key actions to make the new EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) work.

Currently, implementation and enforcement of EU water legislation is unsatisfactory. No major water directive has been completely implemented by the member states. The European Court of Justice has condemned nine member states for non-compliance with water legislation in 42 cases concerning 17 Directives.

The main objectives of the WFD are to protect and improve the Community’s aquatic environment and to make a contribution to sustainable, balanced and equitable water use. It introduces novel tools and instruments into EU water law: an ecological, holistic approach to water status assessment; river basin planning; a strategy for elimination of pollution; greatly increased provision for informing and consulting the public and economic instruments to help meet environmental objectives.

The EEB urged governments to ensure public participation from the beginning of the implementation process, to substantially increase financial and human capacities and to ensure the implementation and enforcement of existing water legislation.

Dr. Christian Hey from EEB said ‘The WFD can only become a success if Member States, DG ENV and the different environmental agencies substantially increase their expenditures and investments to cope with the challenges ahead. Stable and decreasing investments will put the implementation process at risk.’

An open seminar EU Water Policy under the Water Framework Directive – Future Challenges and Environmental Outcomes was organised by EEB in Brussels in November 2000. It involoved 24 NGOs from 14 European countries who jointly developed nine key actions to make the WFD work and to improve the Community’s water policy.

The actions are:

  • Securing Public Participation and NGO involvement
  • Substantial support for the implementation of the WFD.
  • Implementation and enforcement of existing water legislation in both Member States and accession countries
  • Extending sustainability rules to all water uses
  • Integrated and transparent water management
  • A robust definition of good ecological status
  • Stepping up preventative groundwater protection
  • Water pricing to reflect water’s true value
  • Cessation goal for all hazardous substances

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