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The commitment to the WFD: continuing its development while maintaining its objectives

About the blog

Wendy Francke
Managing Director of VLARIO; Chairwoman of EWA European Policy Committee.
  • The commitment to the WFD: continuing its development while maintaining its objectives

Since the WFD has entered into force, water quality has improved throughout Europe. The existing national instruments have also been given the necessary cross-border embedding and expansion. However, the improvement is slow; climate change impacts water quality negatively. Hence, permanent attention is required. In order to achieve the WFD objectives, all partners need to cooperate closely. The EWA position on the WFD and its current review comprise of eight important points.

  1. Ensuring continuation of the WFD, also after 2027

Every Member State should do its utmost to maintain or increase ambition to achieve good status. River Basin Management Plans requires an update every 6 years. Even if good status is achieved, updates due to climate change will still be necessary.

According to EWA, the Parliament should consider asking the Commission how to ensure this in the review process.

  1. Establishing achievable interim targets, based on realistic lead times, are key for the respective management cycles.

Setting achievable and relatable interim targets requires further development of the previous approach of implementation goals and the involvement of stakeholders in the water sector.

The results from the second River Basin Management Plans show that European waters remain under pressure from multiple sources. By ensuring sustainable management of water resources, further policy action are needed.

  1. Implementing the “one-out – all-out” principle

The ongoing review process should also include conside­rations of how improvements in individual evaluation components could be made more visible in the future. The Parliament should consider implementation of interim targets. When interim targets are applied, two benchmarks should be established: one to measure the distance to good status, and one to measure performance against the interim target.

  1. Clarifying the non-deterioration principle

This review process should be used to make the important in­strument of deterioration prevention more practicable. The rulings on the non-deterioration principle passed by the European Court of Justice leave a number of open questions regarding the this topic. In particular, there is a need for new guidance on its application in the assessment of the chemical status of waters.

  1. Needing to address on water resources pressures

Vast efforts are made to reduce pollution from point sources of pollution. Little has so far been done to address other issues such as diffuse pollution and hydro-morphology. Addressing these issues is necessary to make real progress towards the targets of the WFD.

  1. Monitoring

Article 8 of WFD states that the Member States shall ensure the establishment of monitoring programs of the status of waters. A lot of the chemical and physical monitoring is possible remotely. There is a high demand for good scientific and technical inventory. The Parliament should ask the Commission to conduct an inventory needed to ensure monitoring.

  1. Evaluating an effective “phasing out” obligation

The EEA states that the pollution of waters with priority hazardous substances is still a challenge. The measures have not always been effective in ensuring the attainment of the WFD’s targets for chemical status of water. The effectiveness of the phasing out of Priority Hazardous Substances and how to improve is an issue.

  1. Harmonization WFD with other European regulations

The harmonization of WFD with other European regulations is very important. There is a need for a stronger integrative consideration and harmonization of the existing European regulations with the WFD.  It will deliver cost-effective opportunities and reduce bureaucracy.

Link to EWA Position :

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