MEPs insisted that the Ospar commitment to ending hazardous discharges to sea be met by 2020 (see related story). Both the Council of Ministers and the European Commission have been reluctant to include the Ospar agreement in the Directive.

Other amendments passed by MEPs during their second reading of the Directive (see related story) include:

  • agreement with the EP Environment Committee’s insistence that water quality improvements are met by member states within 10 years, but in the case of derogations the EP has sided with the Council and decided that a maximum extension of 18 years is acceptable. The Environment Committee had argued that 16 years should be the maximum
  • on the question of water pricing the EP failed to back the Commission’s plans to develop structures to link the commercial price of water to its true long-term and environmental costs. Instead, the EP wants to see policies that offer incentives for efficient water use without forcing price rises in all sectors and geographic regions
  • MEPs also added binding elements to several articles of the Directive in an attempt to counter environmentalists’ criticisms that the Directive will not have any legal teeth. Following the vote, Greenpeace International said that the MEPs’ changes have still failed to protect groundwater quality

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