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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission asks Italy to transpose water legislation correctly

Brussels, 22 March 2012 – Italy is failing to comply with EU legislation on water protection. The shortcomings relate to various aspects of the integration of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) into national law. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion. If Italy fails to reply within two months, or its reply is deemed unsatisfactory, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

The Water Framework Directive provides the basis for managing and protecting Europe's waters. It obliges Member States to create and maintain "river basin management plans", which contain detailed accounts of how the ecological, quantitive and chemical objectives set for river basins are to be reached within an agreed timescale.

Italy has failed to transpose a number of WFD Articles correctly, including the need to put in place a number of measures to achieve the "good status" objectives set for river basins before the agreed deadline and the requirement to keep an updated register of protected areas.

The Commission also has concerns about Italy's transposition of Annex II of the Directive, which covers the characterisation of surface and ground waters. The transposition of Annex V, which concerns monitoring of the status of surface and ground waters is also lacking certain aspects, including the requirements to monitor the discharge of extra water into groundwater bodies, and to provide maps with the characteristics specified in the Directive to describe the chemical levels and amounts of water per groundwater body.

The deadline to transpose the Directive expired in December 2003, but at this time Italy had not adopted laws to meet the Directive's requirements (IP/07/933). Although Italy has since transposed the Directive, a conformity check carried out by the Commission in 2009 identified several shortcomings and non-conformity issues and in May 2010 the Commission sent a letter of formal notice. As Italy's replies and subsequent amendments to national legislation do not satisfy all of the Commission's concerns, a reasoned opinion is now being sent.


The Water Framework Directive, which came into force in 2000, provides a framework for Member States to manage water resources in an integrated way in river basin districts across the European Union. All Member States have undertaken the commitment to protect and restore all bodies of ground water and surface water (rivers, lakes, canals and coastal water) so that river basin districts achieve "good status" by 2015 at the latest.

Instead of administrative or political boundaries, the natural geographical and hydrological units of river basins are used as the best basis from which to manage water systems. For each river basin district a "river basin management plan" is established and updated every six years.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

See also:

More details on water policy:

Details on implementation of river basin management plans in Italy:


Contacts :

Robert Flies (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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