Water Framework Directive – proposal for its amendments and “daughter” directives

Plan działania na rzecz lepszego

The amendment proposal concerns Directive 2000/60/EC (the Water Framework Directive – WFD) and two related documents, Directive 2006/118/EC (the Groundwater Directive – GWD) and Directive 2008/105/EC (the Environmental Quality Standards Directive – EQSD). Collectively, the guidelines focus on groundwater and surface water protection and complement other water-related legislation.

Water Framework Directive – procedure

Request dated October 26, 2022. is part of the European Commission’s ongoing work program. This is a key element of the plan for future EU action to eliminate pollution. The initiative is designed to help achieve the goals in the most efficient and least disruptive way possible.

The legal basis for the proposal is Art. 192 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). According to Art. 191 and Art. 192 para. 1 TFEU, the Union is obliged to contribute to preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, to promote measures at the international level to solve regional or global environmental problems, and to combat climate change. Thanks to the guidelines in the WFD, this will not only be easier at the implementation stage of the activities, but also at the reporting stage.

The European Commission is keen to implement the new arrangements as smoothly as possible. The initiative thus took the form of a directive. This is the most appropriate legal instrument to amend the existing guidelines. This form of the document obliges member states to adapt the new provisions to their national substantive and procedural law systems and to apply measures to achieve the goals. The directive gives more leeway than the regulation, as it leaves open the possibility of choosing the most appropriate ways to achieve the obligations.

WFD to change – why?

Assessing the adequacy of the 2019 EU water legislation. demonstrated the need to update the directives, and also showed that other changes to the regulations would increase their effectiveness and consistency.

The revision of the WFD’s provisions aims to increase the protection of the European Union’s citizens and water-dependent ecosystems in accordance with the Biodiversity Strategy, as well as the Plan for the Elimination of Water, Air and Soil Pollution, which are part of the European Green Deal.

The change is expected to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations while reducing the administrative burden imposed by the legislation, as well as enable EU institutions to respond more quickly to emerging risks.

The specific objectives of this initiative:

  1. Update the lists of pollutants affecting surface and groundwater;
  2. Improve monitoring of chemicals to more effectively assess their impact and account for seasonal changes in their concentrations;
  3. Harmonize (where appropriate) the elimination of chemicals in surface and groundwater across the EU;
  4. Ensuring that the regulatory framework can be more quickly adapted to scientific findings in order to better respond to newly emerging contaminants;
  5. Improve data access and reuse to reduce administrative burden and improve consistency with the broader EU regulatory framework for chemicals.

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