Water Framework Directive

Living Rivers Europe’s review and answers to public consultation

The Water Framework Directive is currently subject to a standard review in the form of a “fitness check” which will examine the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and European added value of the WFD and the Floods Directive. This includes ongoing stakeholder consultation and public consultation. Living Rivers Europe campaigns to not change the WFD, better implement and enforce it, and integrate water protection objectives into other sectoral policies

This page presents a review and main replies sent for the public consultation in 2018 through the #protectwater campaign

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000 is one of the most progressive environmental legislation in the EU. It involves the protection, enhancement and restoration of our rivers, wetlands, lakes and coastal waters. The governments of the European Union are committed to avoid any deterioration and to obtain a good water status for the vast majority of water bodies by 2015 and at the latest by 2027. But despite the great advances allowed, the goal has not been achieved.

According to the latest data, 60% of Europe’s rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands are not healthy. For generations we have destroyed and polluted them, and used too much water irresponsibly.

If we continue in this way, it will affect everything – from small things in our day-to-day lives we take for granted, to keeping entire industries going. It will also affect all the countless species that need these ecosystems to survive.

The EU water law protects our water sources, but governments now want to weaken it.

Main Living Rivers Europe’s answer to the public consultation

– The approach set out in WFD is appropriate to prevent deterioration, restore freshwater ecosystems and ensure a reliable supply of clean water for all legitimate water uses. WFD led to more stringent national water protection laws to be adopted, and EU-level action is also justified because freshwater ecosystems do not recognise borders. WFD is flexible enough to accommodate socio-economic concerns, governance structures, local cultural preference and traditions.

– WFD remains relevant to addressing diverse pressures faced by EU waters and water-related societal and economic challenges (including climate change and new technological developments such as fracking). Describing ecosystem health with WFD’s ‘one-out-all-out principle’ remains critical, as does the use of appropriate water pricing in line with polluter/user pays principle.

– Where properly implemented, WFD has proved to be effective in protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems. The current poor state of EU waters is caused by my government’s lack of ambition and political will to address the main pressures on our waters; it is NOT the result of WFD legal provisions and approach to water management.

– As well as protecting nature, WFD has added value to the economy and yielded additional social benefits (eg avoided costs for treatment of water, prevented economic losses due to droughts and floods, health benefits).

– WFD is coherent with other pieces of EU environmental law and supports EU economic development-related objectives. However, achievement of WFD objectives has been significantly undermined by unsustainable practices promoted under EU sectoral policies (esp. agriculture, energy, transport).

Living Rivers Europe  appeal to the Commission and Member States to not change the WFD, but instead better implement and enforce it, and integrate water protection objectives into other sectoral policies (esp. agriculture, energy, transport, flood management).

Read all of LRE’s responses to the public consultation

More infos

Through the #ProtectWater campaign, more than 375,000 citizens accross Europe expressed their wish for the WFD to remain unchange.

Between October 9, 2018 and March 12, 2019, 375,386 people participated in the public consultation of the European Commission. An opportunity for the general public to show its interest in the EU’s water policy. This consultation is the 3rd largest EU consultation in history and the largest EU consultation on legislation ever.

Below some resources used to inform, raise awareness for the public consultation!