The "Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy", shortly called the Water Framework Directive or WFD was adopted in 2000. The Article 19(2) of the WFD foresees that "the European Commission will review its Directive at the latest 19 years after the date of its entry into force and will propose any necessary amendments to it", i.e. in 2019.
The CoR opinion on the fitness check of the WFD and FD:
Provides an input to the revision of the water legislation, adopted in 2000. Its objective is also to contribute to the Zero Pollution Action Plan on water, air and soil expected to be published in early 2021.
Aims to underline the role of local and regional authorities in contributing to upgrading the future EU water policy in the framework of the upcoming proposals under the Green Deal and in line with the SDGs, aimed at achieving a good ecological and chemical status for European waters in line with the concerns of its citizens.
Points out the importance of water for the European citizens who seized the opportunity and dedicated the first European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) to addressing their concerns related to EU water policy.
Welcomes the timely delivery of the fitness check of the Water Framework Directive and Floods Directive. Both are fit for purpose and have led to a higher level of protection for water and flood risk management. However, not all objectives have been fully reached due to inadequate funding, slow implementation and insufficient integration of environmental objectives in sectoral policies.
Underlines that the Water Framework Directive has become a milestone in the improvement of water resources in Europe.However, due to the emerging challenges like climate change, microplastics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, antibiotics, but also new technologies and methodologies over the last 20 years, and in the light of the SDGs and the Green Deal, the directive urgently needs to be upgraded;
• Urges less silo-thinking on water and greater coherence and coordination across all EU legislation, in particular with regard to concerns on climate change, the circular economy and emerging pollutants.
• Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it calls for improved sterilisation of wastewater, an increased research and deployment of Nature-Based Solutions, in order to eliminate any epidemiological threats to water quality;
• The CoR calls on the European Commission to provide further financial support for cities and regions to develop innovative water management solutions and encourages participation in the Water Erasmus initiative
Some messages of the opinion have been included in the EP draft motion for a resolution on the Implementation of the EU water legislation [ENVI/9/02705] . Oral question to the resolution were voted at the ENVI Committee on 3 September; adoption of the EP resolution is planned for late October 2020.The CoR opinion has been shared with all the EU institutions and the relevant associations.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the timely delivery of the fitness check of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Floods Directive (FD). Both are fit for purpose and have led to a higher level of protection for water bodies and flood risk management. However, not all objectives have been fully reached due to inadequate funding, slow implementation and insufficient integration of environmental objectives in sectoral policies;
- stresses that considering the emerging challenges and new solutions over the last 20 years, and in the light of the SDGs and the European Green Deal, the WFD should be upgraded;
- proposes urgent implementation of innovative tools to achieve good ecological status in European catchments, such as Ecohydrological Nature Based Solutions. It upgrades the efficiency of hydrotechnical infrastructure, enhances the catchment sustainability multidimensional potential and promotes a holistic approach by encouraging transdisciplinary sustainability science and education;
- urges less silo-thinking on water and greater coherence and coordination across all interrelated EU legislation, in particular regarding concerns on climate change, the circular economy and emerging pollutants;
- calls for more research and innovation of water source diversification in order to ensure water security, in particular for European cities that attract a growing number of citizens, and its regions that are increasingly hit by long drought phases;
- calls on the Commission to help step up the implementation potential in cities and regions across the EU by expanding existing platforms for sharing best practice and know-how, as well as providing financial tools to support the transfer of innovative methods and systemic solutions between regions;
- urges the Commission to increase the enforcement of legal obligations covering water pollution, including new substances such as micro plastics and pharmaceuticals. Current wastewater treatment plants are not entirely capable of removing micro pollutants;
- given the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for improved sterilisation of wastewater, an increased research into better preservation of wastewater and an increased deployment of Nature-Based Solutions, in order to eliminate any epidemiological threats to water quality.