The Working Group on Fresh Water Affairs consists of representatives from different national and regional advisory bodies which have longstanding experience on water affairs.
Through communication and coordination, as well as the combined knowledge, expertise, and resources of its members, the working group is able to address a number of relevant issues with regard to the European fresh water dossiers, such as the Water Framework Directive.
The Working Group is currently Chaired by: Minaraad
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In order to fulfill the obligation to review the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the European Commission published its evaluation roadmap in October 2017. As part of this evaluation process and in prelude to the review process in 2019, the EEAC Working Group on Fresh Water Affairs dedicated its latest round-table session to the potential explanations of the incomplete success so far of the WFD and the future of the WFD.
The WFD was so different from the previous, standard-oriented, water directives that the WFD was considered to be very innovative at the time of it’s enactment in 2000. The WFD not only defines a number of organizational and technical assignments for Member States but obliges them to direct these measures at the attainment of the “good status” of their territorial water systems.
This “good status” was supposed to be met by 2015, but the WFD provided for mechanisms to extend the deadline until 2027. Moreover, Member States were asked to underpin their policies with an economic analysis of the water use in the river basins, and to take account of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services, including environmental and resource costs.
In 2012, the Commission published its assessment of the then existing river basin management plans. The conclusion was that the output was acceptable, but that the outcome remained unsatisfactory. Only slightly more than half of the surface waters would reach the “good status” in 2015. Whether this “good status” will finally be reached in 2027 remains still unclear.
How was the workshop conducted?
Experts in their field, were invited to share their perspectives, ideas and knowledge during plenary sessions. Together, they focused on A) the potential explanations of the incomplete success of the EU Water Framework Directive so far (with special attention to the subject of economic thinking, systems thinking and reaching ‘good status’). B) what needs to be done to reach the good status and what would be the future of the WFD if this status has not been met by 2027.
EEAC exploratory note: Working on the Water Framework Directive
Working on the Water Framework Directive, Presentation by Jan Verheeke
Session outcome document: The EU Water Framework Directive Results to date and outlook for the future
The Water Framework Directive – in full, the Directive 2000/60/EC, establishing a framework
for Community action in the field of water policy; abridged: the “WFD” – dates from October
23rd, 2000, and was publicized on December 22nd, same year.
Article 19.2. WFD states that “the Commission will review this Directive at the latest 19 years
after the date of its entry into force”, i.e. in 2019, “and will propose any necessary
amendments to it.” In the run-up to this, and in order to re-acquaint with the WFD, the working group Chairman issued a exploratory note on the Water Framework Directive.
This exploratory note is meant to be a contribution to this
work, as it should bring the EEAC’s to a level playing field concerning their knowledge about
the WFD and raise awareness among the EEAC’s that are not yet involved.
The EEAC member councils agreed upon the note in December 2017.
Being in the middle of its second management cycle and in the prelude of its review in 2019 the Water Framework Directive still faces considerable challenges. Often insufficient monitoring and deficient analysis of pressures occurs. Programmes of measures are not ambitious enough and the Water Framework Directive intervention logic is not always followed. Furthermore, frequent and non-transparent use of exemptions are made and the integration of further policy domains remain insufficient.
Against this challenging background the EEAC Working Group on Fresh Water Affairs dedicated a workshop to these challenges and invited all attendance to start working towards and beyond the Water Framework Directive review of 2019. By organizing this workshop, the EEAC Network continues its work on the Water Framework Directive that has started already in 1995.
The workshop brought together a variety of participants from different fields and backgrounds. The invitees included scientists, national and EU experts, and civil society and government representatives and specialists from multiple advisory councils for environment and sustainable development. The Workshop focused on the origins and evolution of the Water Framework Directive in the member states. Followed by a scientific analysis which outlined the great expectations and the problems of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. After this analysis, the options in prelude to the 2019 review and for the post 2027 period were discussed.
Origin and evolution of the WFD Perspective of a member state by Veronique van den Langenbergh
The potential contribution of water technology by Dirk Halet
The EU Water Framework Directive From great expectations to... by Nick Voulvoulis