What is the Water Framework Directive?
The Water Framework Directive is a piece of European Union
legislation designed to preserve, restore and improve the water
environment. It establishes a framework for managing the water
environment in a holistic manner taking into account environmental,
social and economic factors.
The Directive was established in October 2000 by the European
Commission, the executive body of the European Union that proposes
legislation, implements EU policies and enforces EU law. Each of
the Member States of the European Union is required to implement
the legislation and achieve the environmental objectives the
Article 4 of the Directive outlines the environmental objectives to
be met. They are:
All surface water bodies to achieve good ecological and chemical
status by 2015. This covers inland waters, transitional waters
(estuaries) and coastal waters.
All groundwater bodies to achieve good groundwater quantitative and
chemical status by 2015.
Heavily-modified water bodies and artificial water bodies to
achieve good ecological potential and good surface water chemical
status by 2015.
No water bodies to experience deterioration in status from one
class to another.
Protected Areas to achieve the requirements made under their
designation in relation to the water environment.
As well as the twenty five EU Member States implementing the
Directive, EU candidate countries such as Romania and Bulgaria and
EFTA members such as Norway and Iceland are also implementing it,
although not to the same timescale.
How is it being implemented?
Each member state has to transpose the directive into their own
national legislation. Although there is considerable flexibility in
the transposition, to ensure commonality across Europe, a 'Common
Implementation Strategy' provides guidance for Member States.
Member States are required to designate a Competent Authority to
oversee the transposition.
As part of the Common Implementation Strategy, fifteen Pilot River
Basins have been set up to test the guidance documents produced by
the Common Implementation Strategy working groups.
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