European Commission and Member States to gather for critical water conference
EU Member States, the European Commission and other stakeholders will gather in Bucharest tomorrow for a Ministerial Water Conference (21-22 May). Stakeholders will be discussing the ongoing implementation of EU water legislation, the backbone of which is the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
The conference follows an official handover to the European Commission and Member States of the voices of the 375,000+ citizens that participated in the #ProtectWater campaign, which called for the WFD to remain unchanged. The submissions fed into the Commission’s public consultation on the WFD, making it the largest consultation on water in the history of the EU.
Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office, said:
“Member States must use this time to take a long, hard look at the state of our rivers, and an even harder look at themselves. They have skirted around their legal commitments for too long and, as analysis we released last week shows, are not holding unsustainable industries to account. Member States need to stop bowing to pressure from business lobbies to change the law and use tomorrow’s conference to share best practice on how to use the Water Framework Directive in its current form to bring life back to our rivers.”
Why does this conference matter?
This conference will be an important space to gauge whether Member States will be sticking with their “business as usual” approach to the EU water law or change their tune. Since the launch of the fitness-check of the WFD, some Member States have strongly attacked the legislation and called for it to be significantly changed - including by postponing the already generous 2027 deadline for bringing all EU rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater to “good status”. Member States have so-far argued that they are calling for ambitious reform of the legislation, but new analysis released by WWF and other environmental groups last week clearly shows that their wish-list of changes would lead to a dangerous weakening of the legislation and, paradoxically, that it aligns with the wishes of business lobby groups who openly call for a weakening of the standards.
What does WWF want?
With only 40% of EU rivers, lakes and wetlands currently healthy, it has never been more crucial for Member States to make the EU’s strong water legislation work in practice. Instead of delivering their usual messages around the need to reform the WFD, WWF urges Member States to utilise the space at this conference to exchange good practices around implementation and discuss how the legislation in its current form can be better used to bring the vast majority of Europe’s freshwater bodies back to good health by 2027 at the very latest - the stated objective of the WFD.
Communications Officer (Freshwater)
WWF European Policy Office
+32 471 05 25 11