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Brussels, 3 June 2010

Environment: Twelve Member States warned over missing river basin plans

The European Commission is sending a first warning to twelve Member States for failing to submit their plans for managing Europe's river basins, as required by EU water legislation. The Member States involved are: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. The river basin plans are the cornerstone of the Water Framework Directive and essential for achieving the EU's objective of 'good status' for European waters by 2015. They should have been adopted by 22 December 2009 at the latest.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "I am pleased that the majority of Member States have successfully delivered their river basin management plans on time. However, we still do not have plans for a quarter of the EU's territory. I urge those Member States to take action quickly, complete the public consultation and submit their plans."

First warning to twelve Member States over river basin plans

The Commission is sending a first warning letter to twelve Member States concerning the absence of river basin management plans required by the Water Framework Directive1.

Under the legislation, Member States had to publish a management plan for each river basin 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.

Member States are required 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.

However, while most Member States have submitted their plans, twelve have failed to do so and in some Member States consultations have still not started. With plans for a quarter of the EU's territory still missing, some 31% of citizens have no certainty yet how their water resources will be managed.

This puts the achievement of the Directive's objectives at risk. Further delays will have a knock on effect for the overall implementation of the Directive, on the establishment of measures and ultimately on improvement of the water environment. The Commission is therefore sending a first written warning to the Member States involved, urging them to speed up procedures to adopt the plans. They have two months to reply.

River Basin Management Plans

The groundbreaking Water Framework Directive, which came into force in 2000, provides a framework for integrated water management in river basin districts across the European Union. It 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.

The Commission is studying the quality of the plans submitted, and will present a third report on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in 2012. This will assess the plans and provide recommendations for improving their implementation. The report will feed into the 2012 "Blueprint for Safeguarding European Waters."

Useful links:

Case numbers:

2010/2070 BE, 2010/2071 CY, 2010/2072 DK, 2010/2074 EL, 20102076 IE, 2010/2077 LT, 2010/2078 MT, 20102079 PL, 2010/2080 PT, 2010/2081 RO, 2010/2082 SI, 2010/2083 ES

1 :

Council Directive 2000/60/EC, establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.

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