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In a green valley the bend of the river Maas. Two inland vessels sail on the river

Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) was adopted in 2000 and envisaged a long implementation process leading to the adoption of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs), which describe the actions envisaged to implement the Directive.

The assessment of the preparation and implementation of these RBMPs has already been the subject of 5 Commission implementation reports, in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2019.

The requirements and goals of the WFD are closely linked to the work of water management organizations. More information about the EUWMA position on the future of the WFD can be found in the Frankfurt Declaration from 2017.

More information on the Water Framework Directive

In November 2012, the European Commission published its 3rd implementation report on the WFD, the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Waters. The aim of the Blueprint was to identify excessive burdens, overlaps, gaps, inconsistencies and/or obsolete measures which may have appeared over time. Pilot exercises were started in 2010 in 4 areas: environment, transport, employment & social policy, and industrial policy. In the area of environment, the protection of EU freshwater resources has been selected as the pilot area.

On 9 March 2015 the European Commission submitted an interim report to the European Parliament and the Council on implementation of this Directive. The report included a review of progress on the implementation of the Programmes of Measures planned by member states in their RBMPs.

The interim report is based on the analysis of the reports submitted by member states in accordance with Article 15.3 of the WFD and provides suggestions for improving future Programmes of Measures to be added to the update of the RBMPs, due at the latest by 22 December 2015. To identify and build on existing synergies with the Floods Directive (FD), the report also includes a section on the assessment of the FD’s implementation.

On 19 June 2018 the European Environment Agency published an Assessment of status and pressures in the European Waters. Even though the report shows much progress and investments have been made, more improvement is needed to reach good status of the European waters by 2027. The publication of Commission assessment of the implementation of the second RBMPs confirm this conclusion and provided the member states with recommendations for improvement.

Fitness check of the Water Framework Directive

In 2018, the European Commission started the fitness check of the WFD. This included several stakeholder workshops and a public consultation which EUWMA responded to. In 2019 the Commission concluded that WFD and its daughter directive (Floods Directive, Environmental Quality Standards Directive & Groundwater Directive) are largely fit for purpose. The Directives have led to a higher level of protection for water bodies and flood risk management than could have been expected without them. However, the Commission also realized that WFD implementation had been significantly delayed. Less than half of the EU’s water bodies were in good status, even though the deadline for achieving this was 2015. Therefore the Commission expects the full commitment of the Member States to show extra ambition for the current RBMP period.

> Frankfurt declaration