After 25 years of EU water legislation the European Union has just thoroughly restructured its water policy. The European Parliament and the Council, following a tough conciliation procedure between the two legislators, have in summer 2000 agreed a proposal by the European Commission for a Water Framework Directive. This legislation will have the following main objectives:

  • integrated river basin management across borders, with coordinated programmes of measures

  • protection of all waters, surface waters and groundwater, in quality and quantity with a proper ecological dimension

  • emissions and discharges controlled by a “combined approach” of emission limit values and quality standards, plus the phasing out of particularly hazardous substances

  • introducing water pricing policies

  • strengthening public participation

This new Water Framework Directive adopted in September 2000 will complement existing EU water legislation on nutrients reduction - the 1991 Directive on nitrates pollution from agricultural sources and the 1991 Directive on urban waste water treatment. These Directives will remain main pillars of EU water policy whilst at the same time being integrated into the river basin management in a coherent way.

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