Evaluation of EU water legislation concludes that it is broadly fit for purpose but implementation needs to speed up

fitness check of the Water Framework Directive, its associated Directives, and the Floods Directive concludes that they are overall fit for purpose, with some room for enhanced effectiveness. Despite improvements in the protection of water bodies and flood risk management, the evaluation points to insufficient level of implementation by Member States and by sectors with a heavy impact on water such as agriculture, energy and transport. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Our water legislation is strong and able to protect both water quality and quantity, also in view of the new challenges from climate change and emerging pollutants, such as microplastics and pharmaceuticals. But more than half of all European water bodies are not yet in good status, and the challenges for Member States are more than substantial. We now need to accelerate the implementation of what we have agreed. The momentum of the European Green Deal will allow us to make such a leap forward.” Water is essential for EU citizens and the economy, but climate change and environmental degradation are putting pressure on this precious resource. In light of these twin crises, the objectives of the EU water directives – tackling water pollution, curtailing freshwater biodiversity loss, and improving resilience to climate change impacts – are as relevant as ever. The results of the evaluation of the Water Framework Directive, complemented by the Environmental Quality Standards Directive and the Groundwater Directive, are mixed. On the one hand, the Water Framework Directive has been successful in setting up a governance framework for integrated water management for the more than 110,000 water bodies in the EU, slowing down the deterioration of water status and reducing chemical pollution. On the other hand, the Directive’s implementation has been significantly delayed. As a result, less than half of the EU’s water bodies are in good status, even though the deadline for achieving this was 2015.