Trinomics, in collaboration with Milieu Ltd, has been awarded a study contract by the European Parliament to carry out an ex-post evaluation of European water legislation and assess the costs of not coordinating policies on a European level.
With the Water Framework Directive’s (WFD) entry into force in 2000, the EU set itself long-ter, ambitious objectives for managing and improving its entire aquatic environment, and laid down requirements for integrated and transparent river basin management. Fourteen years later, and less than one year away from the deadline for achieving the general objective of the WFD, i.e. achieving a “good” status for all water bodies, the challenge faced by the EU remains immense. The European Commission’s extensive assessments in support of its proposals published in the “Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources” seem to confirm this general picture and provide ample information based on the increased availability of data and improved understanding of aquatic ecosystems and the reasons for their deterioration. Nevertheless, the European Commission opted for an incremental strategy which does not include new policies and measures. Their approach is based on a better integration of water into sectoral policies via non-binding EU guidance documents, and on an improvement of water efficiency with the help of EU product standards.
In order to assess whether and how EU policies are effective to ensure that sufficient, affordable and safe water is available for people, businesses and for a healthy environment, we need to cover the breadth of the many EU water and chemical safety laws which are linked to the WFD, as well as the interactions between these laws. This means that the assessment of multi-dimensional regional planning requirements, like the River Basin Management Plans, is linked to the effectiveness of single topic EU level standards, like safety or efficiency requirements for a product, and needs to take into account subsidiarity concerns as well as common market interests.
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact Jeroen van der Laan.