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Brussels, 28 October 2010

Environment: Commission urges seven Member States to submit river basin plans

The European Commission is urging seven Member States to comply with EU water legislation and submit their plans for managing Europe's river basins. The Member States concerned are Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia. The river basin management plans should have been adopted by 22 December 2009 at the latest. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, reasoned opinions are therefore being sent. In the absence of satisfactory responses from the Member States concerned within two months, the Commission may refer them to the European Court of Justice.

Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy requires Member States to publish a management plan for each river district at the latest nine years after the legislation entered into force. Member States sharing international rivers must work together to produce a single international river basin management plan.

The Water Framework Directive requires Member States to consult the public and other interested parties on the plans and publish draft copies, allowing six months for comments in writing. Because of these requirements, public consultations should have started at the latest in December 2008.

Despite the fact that many Member States have submitted their plans, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia have failed to do so. The Commission is therefore sending these Member States a reasoned opinion.


The Water Framework Directive obliges Member States to protect and restore all bodies of ground water and surface water (rivers, lakes, canals and coastal water) to achieve good status by 2015 at the latest. River Basin Management Plans give a comprehensive overview of the main issues for each river basin district and should include the specific measures needed to achieve set environmental quality objectives. Where any exemptions are applied, a thorough justification must be provided.

For further information on the consultation and adoption status of river basin management plans, visit:

More details on water policy:

For current statistics on infringements in general, see:


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