European Commission urges implementation Water Framework Directive

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We need to reinforce our efforts to get to our original goal. This was the main message of Karmenu Vella, euro commissioner Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries during the 4th European Water Conference which was held in Brussels from 23 to 24 of March. Vella said he was not preparing new legislation, but he urges to get into action quickly.

According to the Water Framework Directive (WFD) all EU waters should be brought back to a good status in 2015. A recent study showed that today, only 53% of the European water bodies are in good environmental state. Vella identified in his opening six important needs to reach the goal as quickly as possible. “We need to improve the monitoring and assessment of water status – if not, the planning could be fundamentally flawed. Secondly, we need to shift our attention from general into more specific problems. For instance, we need to address and come up with better efforts on pollution from agriculture, which affects 90% of river basins. Third, water bodies have been negatively affected by too many changes to their natural shape and flow. Removing and rectifying these man-made pressures is necessary to restore the aquatic environment and its ecosystems. Fourth, water scarcity remains an issue, and not just in the South. Water extraction needs to be controlled, in order to achieve a good balance between availability and use. Fifth, we must pay more attention to the principle of cost recovery. Possibly applying water pricing or other ways to incentivise an efficient use of water. We need to integrate our water management. It no longer makes sense to look at water in one area without addressing it in another.”

Finance
During the conference it became clear water will be integrated in different European policy areas. The importance of water is called a precondition for life and water governance will affect all policy areas. Vella stated the European Commission provides funding for water project through Horizon 2020 (societal change) and the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP). Although public funding is available, Vella admits private investments are crucial.

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