Alphabetical index
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Protection of the aquatic environment against discharges of dangerous substances (until 2013)

The European Union (EU) lays down harmonised rules to protect the aquatic environment against the discharge of dangerous substances. The new regulations impose in particular the granting of an authorisation for certain pollutant discharges, emission limits for some chemicals and an improvement in the quality of waters under national jurisdiction. This Directive is repealed by the Framework Directive on water as from the end of 2013.


Directive 2006/11/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment of the Community (Codified version).


This Directive lays down rules for protection against, and prevention of, pollution resulting from the discharge of certain substances into the aquatic environment. It applies to inland surface water, territorial waters and internal coastal waters.

Two lists of dangerous substances have been compiled to combat pollution:

  • discharge of substances in list I must be eliminated; while
  • discharge of substances in list II must be reduced.

Pursuant to Annex IX of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC), quality objectives and emission limit values are established by the “daughter directives” of Directive 2006/11/EC. Moreover, emission limit values for pollutants must be based on the best available techniques in line with Article 10 of Framework Directive 2000/60/EC.

All discharges of substances included in list I require prior authorisation by the competent authority in the Member State concerned. The authorisation is granted for a limited period and lays down emission standards which may be more stringent than the thresholds set by Community legislation, particularly to take account of the toxicity or persistence of the substance in the environment into which it is discharged. It is up to the Member States to ensure compliance with the emission standards.

For the substances on list II, the Member States adopt and implement programmes to preserve and improve water quality. All discharges are subject to prior authorisation by the competent authority in the Member State concerned that lays down the emission standards.

The Member States draw up an inventory of the discharges into the waters covered by this Directive and may take more severe measures than those laid down by Community legislation to reduce or eliminate pollution caused by dangerous substances.

The Directive lays down a procedure for revising and adding to the lists or transferring specific substances from list II to list I.

Before 22 December 2012, Member States may carry out surveillance and notification pursuant to Articles 5, 8 and 15 of the Water Framework Directive.


This Directive codifies and replaces Directive 76/464/EEC and its subsequent amendments. This codification leads to the clarification and rationalisation of legislation. It takes into account the adoption of the water framework Directive and the international conventions on the protection of water courses and the marine environment.

The Directive is repealed by the Water Framework Directive as from 22 December 2013.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2006/11/EC



OJ L 64 of 4.4.2006


Environmental quality standards

Council Directive 82/176/EEC [Official Journal L 81 of 27.3.1982].

This Directive sets limit values and quality objectives for mercury discharges by the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry].
See consolidated version .

Council Directive 83/513/EEC [Official Journal L 291 of 24.10.1983]
This Directive sets limit values and quality objectives for cadmium discharges in the aquatic environment.
See consolidated version .

Council Directive 84/156/EEC [Official Journal L 74 of 17.3.1984]

This Directive sets limit values and quality objectives for mercury discharges in sectors other than the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry.
See consolidated version .

Council Directive84/491/EEC [Official Journal L 274 of 17.10.1984].
This Directive sets limit values and quality objectives for discharges of hexachlorocyclohexane in the aquatic environment.
See consolidated version .

Council Directive 86/280/EEC [Official Journal L 181 of 4.7.1986]. This Directive sets limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Directive 2006/11/EC.
See consolidated version .

Directive 2008/105/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water, amending and repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive2000/60/EC [Official Journal L 348 of 24.12.2008].
This Directive establishes environmental quality standards (EQS) in the field of water. These quality standards aim to combat surface water pollution by 33 priority chemical substances (Annex II). This Directive provides in particular for:

  • an amendment of the list of priority substances and the corresponding EQS;
  • transparent criteria to designate so-called “mixing” zones, within which standards may be exceeded under certain conditions;
  • the preparation of an inventory of emissions, discharges and losses. This inventory will be used to prepare the Commission Report which will check progress achieved in reducing or ceasing emissions of pollutant substances by 2018.

The Directive supplements the legislative framework introduced by the Water Framework Directive. It allows decisions to be made at all levels of governance. Member States have until December 2009 to prepare plans for the management of hydrographical districts and programmes of measures relating thereto.

Improvement of information

Directive 91/692/EEC [Official Journal L 377 of 31.12.1991].

This Directive aims at rationalizing and improving on a sectoral basis the provisions on the transmission of information and the publication of reports concerning certain Community Directives on the protection of the environment.

Decision 92/446/EEC [Official Journal L 247 of 27.8.1992].
This Decision draws up the outlines of questionnaires needed to monitor the implementation of and compliance with the provisions of all Directives in the water sector, including Directives 76/464/EEC, 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC and 86/280/EEC.

Transfer Register

Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 [Official Journal OJ L 33 of 4.2.2006].
The EU introduces a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register to improve access by the public to information and, in the long term, contribute to preventing and reducing pollution.

Last updated: 25.07.2009
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