Implementation of the Water Framework Directive
The implementation of the Water Framework Directive has been closely monitored by the European Commission: in March 2007 (here
), in April 2009 (here
), in November 2012 (here
), in March 2015 (here
) and in February 2019 (here
). In addition to those implementation reports, Member States have to draft and implement six-year national River Basin Management Plans, including an objective for each water body (2009-2015; 2015-2021; 2021-2027), as well as a programme detailing the measures foreseen and timing.
In the last implementation report, the Commission pointed out that “much remains to be done to fully achieve the objectives of the Water Framework Directive and related Directives, first and foremost by the Member States.” It also includes country-specific recommendations for each Member States to help them prepare for the preparation of the third river basin management plans, which are expected to start in 2021. According to the European Commission, “the path towards full compliance with the WFD’s objectives by 2027 (…) seems at this stage very challenging” (see here EAA’s reaction).
In 2018, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published its assessment of status and pressures of waters in the European Union. The report notes that only 40% of surface waters (ie. rivers, lakes, transitional waters, and coastal waters) are in good ecological status, and only 38% are in good chemical status. A lot of work needs to be done to ensure that the objectives set in the Directive are respected. It was echoed in its later report ‘The European environment – state and outlook 2020,’ highlighting the impact on the conservation status of wetland habitats and the species that depend on them.
Already in 2016, the WWF’s Living Planet Report warned that freshwater ecosystems are the most threatened on the planet, and that freshwater species populations have declined by 83% since the 1970s, outlining the importance of getting polluted water clean again, and of ensuring that clean waters are kept clean.
EEA Thematic summary assessment (‘The European environment – state and outlook 2020’)