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Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the CouncilShow full title

Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy

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Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council

of 23 October 2000

establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 175(1) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission(1),

Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee(2),

Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions(3),

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(4), and in the light of the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee on 18 July 2000,

Whereas:

(1) Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such.

(2) The conclusions of the Community Water Policy Ministerial Seminar in Frankfurt in 1988 highlighted the need for Community legislation covering ecological quality. The Council in its resolution of 28 June 1988(5) asked the Commission to submit proposals to improve ecological quality in Community surface waters.

(3) The declaration of the Ministerial Seminar on groundwater held at The Hague in 1991 recognised the need for action to avoid long-term deterioration of freshwater quality and quantity and called for a programme of actions to be implemented by the year 2000 aiming at sustainable management and protection of freshwater resources. In its resolutions of 25 February 1992(6), and 20 February 1995(7), the Council requested an action programme for groundwater and a revision of Council Directive 80/68/EEC of 17 December 1979 on the protection of groundwater against pollution caused by certain dangerous substances(8), as part of an overall policy on freshwater protection.

(4) Waters in the Community are under increasing pressure from the continuous growth in demand for sufficient quantities of good quality water for all purposes. On 10 November 1995, the European Environment Agency in its report ‘Environment in the European Union - 1995’ presented an updated state of the environment report, confirming the need for action to protect Community waters in qualitative as well as in quantitative terms.

(5) On 18 December 1995, the Council adopted conclusions requiring, inter alia, the drawing up of a new framework Directive establishing the basic principles of sustainable water policy in the European Union and inviting the Commission to come forward with a proposal.

(6) On 21 February 1996 the Commission adopted a communication to the European Parliament and the Council on European Community water policy setting out the principles for a Community water policy.

(7) On 9 September 1996 the Commission presented a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on an action programme for integrated protection and management of groundwater(9). In that proposal the Commission pointed to the need to establish procedures for the regulation of abstraction of freshwater and for the monitoring of freshwater quality and quantity.

(8) On 29 May 1995 the Commission adopted a communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the wise use and conservation of wetlands, which recognised the important functions they perform for the protection of water resources.

(9) It is necessary to develop an integrated Community policy on water.

(10) The Council on 25 June 1996, the Committee of the Regions on 19 September 1996, the Economic and Social Committee on 26 September 1996, and the European Parliament on 23 October 1996 all requested the Commission to come forward with a proposal for a Council Directive establishing a framework for a European water policy.

(11) As set out in Article 174 of the Treaty, the Community policy on the environment is to contribute to pursuit of the objectives of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, in prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources, and to be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, environmental damage should, as a priority, be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay.

(12) Pursuant to Article 174 of the Treaty, in preparing its policy on the environment, the Community is to take account of available scientific and technical data, environmental conditions in the various regions of the Community, and the economic and social development of the Community as a whole and the balanced development of its regions as well as the potential benefits and costs of action or lack of action.

(13) There are diverse conditions and needs in the Community which require different specific solutions. This diversity should be taken into account in the planning and execution of measures to ensure protection and sustainable use of water in the framework of the river basin. Decisions should be taken as close as possible to the locations where water is affected or used. Priority should be given to action within the responsibility of Member States through the drawing up of programmes of measures adjusted to regional and local conditions.

(14) The success of this Directive relies on close cooperation and coherent action at Community, Member State and local level as well as on information, consultation and involvement of the public, including users.

(15) The supply of water is a service of general interest as defined in the Commission communication on services of general interest in Europe(10).

(16) Further integration of protection and sustainable management of water into other Community policy areas such as energy, transport, agriculture, fisheries, regional policy and tourism is necessary. This Directive should provide a basis for a continued dialogue and for the development of strategies towards a further integration of policy areas. This Directive can also make an important contribution to other areas of cooperation between Member States, inter alia, the European spatial development perspective (ESDP).

(17) An effective and coherent water policy must take account of the vulnerability of aquatic ecosystems located near the coast and estuaries or in gulfs or relatively closed seas, as their equilibrium is strongly influenced by the quality of inland waters flowing into them. Protection of water status within river basins will provide economic benefits by contributing towards the protection of fish populations, including coastal fish populations.

(18) Community water policy requires a transparent, effective and coherent legislative framework. The Community should provide common principles and the overall framework for action. This Directive should provide for such a framework and coordinate and integrate, and, in a longer perspective, further develop the overall principles and structures for protection and sustainable use of water in the Community in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity.

(19) This Directive aims at maintaining and improving the aquatic environment in the Community. This purpose is primarily concerned with the quality of the waters concerned. Control of quantity is an ancillary element in securing good water quality and therefore measures on quantity, serving the objective of ensuring good quality, should also be established.

(20) The quantitative status of a body of groundwater may have an impact on the ecological quality of surface waters and terrestrial ecosystems associated with that groundwater body.

(21) The Community and Member States are party to various international agreements containing important obligations on the protection of marine waters from pollution, in particular the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, signed in Helsinki on 9 April 1992 and approved by Council Decision 94/157/EC(11), the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, signed in Paris on 22 September 1992 and approved by Council Decision 98/249/EC(12), and the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution, signed in Barcelona on 16 February 1976 and approved by Council Decision 77/585/EEC(13), and its Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution from Land-Based Sources, signed in Athens on 17 May 1980 and approved by Council Decision 83/101/EEC(14). This Directive is to make a contribution towards enabling the Community and Member States to meet those obligations.

(22) This Directive is to contribute to the progressive reduction of emissions of hazardous substances to water.

(23) Common principles are needed in order to coordinate Member States' efforts to improve the protection of Community waters in terms of quantity and quality, to promote sustainable water use, to contribute to the control of transboundary water problems, to protect aquatic ecosystems, and terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands directly depending on them, and to safeguard and develop the potential uses of Community waters.

(24) Good water quality will contribute to securing the drinking water supply for the population.

(25) Common definitions of the status of water in terms of quality and, where relevant for the purpose of the environmental protection, quantity should be established. Environmental objectives should be set to ensure that good status of surface water and groundwater is achieved throughout the Community and that deterioration in the status of waters is prevented at Community level.

(26) Member States should aim to achieve the objective of at least good water status by defining and implementing the necessary measures within integrated programmes of measures, taking into account existing Community requirements. Where good water status already exists, it should be maintained. For groundwater, in addition to the requirements of good status, any significant and sustained upward trend in the concentration of any pollutant should be identified and reversed.

(27) The ultimate aim of this Directive is to achieve the elimination of priority hazardous substances and contribute to achieving concentrations in the marine environment near background values for naturally occurring substances.

(28) Surface waters and groundwaters are in principle renewable natural resources; in particular, the task of ensuring good status of groundwater requires early action and stable long-term planning of protective measures, owing to the natural time lag in its formation and renewal. Such time lag for improvement should be taken into account in timetables when establishing measures for the achievement of good status of groundwater and reversing any significant and sustained upward trend in the concentration of any pollutant in groundwater.

(29) In aiming to achieve the objectives set out in this Directive, and in establishing a programme of measures to that end, Member States may phase implementation of the programme of measures in order to spread the costs of implementation.

(30) In order to ensure a full and consistent implementation of this Directive any extensions of timescale should be made on the basis of appropriate, evident and transparent criteria and be justified by the Member States in the river basin management plans.

(31) In cases where a body of water is so affected by human activity or its natural condition is such that it may be unfeasible or unreasonably expensive to achieve good status, less stringent environmental objectives may be set on the basis of appropriate, evident and transparent criteria, and all practicable steps should be taken to prevent any further deterioration of the status of waters.

(32) There may be grounds for exemptions from the requirement to prevent further deterioration or to achieve good status under specific conditions, if the failure is the result of unforeseen or exceptional circumstances, in particular floods and droughts, or, for reasons of overriding public interest, of new modifications to the physical characteristics of a surface water body or alterations to the level of bodies of groundwater, provided that all practicable steps are taken to mitigate the adverse impact on the status of the body of water.

(33) The objective of achieving good water status should be pursued for each river basin, so that measures in respect of surface water and groundwaters belonging to the same ecological, hydrological and hydrogeological system are coordinated.

(34) For the purposes of environmental protection there is a need for a greater integration of qualitative and quantitative aspects of both surface waters and groundwaters, taking into account the natural flow conditions of water within the hydrological cycle.

(35) Within a river basin where use of water may have transboundary effects, the requirements for the achievement of the environmental objectives established under this Directive, and in particular all programmes of measures, should be coordinated for the whole of the river basin district. For river basins extending beyond the boundaries of the Community, Member States should endeavour to ensure the appropriate coordination with the relevant non-member States. This Directive is to contribute to the implementation of Community obligations under international conventions on water protection and management, notably the United Nations Convention on the protection and use of transboundary water courses and international lakes, approved by Council Decision 95/308/EC(15) and any succeeding agreements on its application.

(36) It is necessary to undertake analyses of the characteristics of a river basin and the impacts of human activity as well as an economic analysis of water use. The development in water status should be monitored by Member States on a systematic and comparable basis throughout the Community. This information is necessary in order to provide a sound basis for Member States to develop programmes of measures aimed at achieving the objectives established under this Directive.

(37) Member States should identify waters used for the abstraction of drinking water and ensure compliance with Council Directive 80/778/EEC of 15 July 1980 relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption(16).

(38) The use of economic instruments by Member States may be appropriate as part of a programme of measures. The principle of recovery of the costs of water services, including environmental and resource costs associated with damage or negative impact on the aquatic environment should be taken into account in accordance with, in particular, the polluter-pays principle. An economic analysis of water services based on long-term forecasts of supply and demand for water in the river basin district will be necessary for this purpose.

(39) There is a need to prevent or reduce the impact of incidents in which water is accidentally polluted. Measures with the aim of doing so should be included in the programme of measures.

(40) With regard to pollution prevention and control, Community water policy should be based on a combined approach using control of pollution at source through the setting of emission limit values and of environmental quality standards.

(41) For water quantity, overall principles should be laid down for control on abstraction and impoundment in order to ensure the environmental sustainability of the affected water systems.

(42) Common environmental quality standards and emission limit values for certain groups or families of pollutants should be laid down as minimum requirements in Community legislation. Provisions for the adoption of such standards at Community level should be ensured.

(43) Pollution through the discharge, emission or loss of priority hazardous substances must cease or be phased out. The European Parliament and the Council should, on a proposal from the Commission, agree on the substances to be considered for action as a priority and on specific measures to be taken against pollution of water by those substances, taking into account all significant sources and identifying the cost-effective and proportionate level and combination of controls.

(44) In identifying priority hazardous substances, account should be taken of the precautionary principle, relying in particular on the determination of any potentially adverse effects of the product and on a scientific assessment of the risk.

(45) Member States should adopt measures to eliminate pollution of surface water by the priority substances and progressively to reduce pollution by other substances which would otherwise prevent Member States from achieving the objectives for the bodies of surface water.

(46) To ensure the participation of the general public including users of water in the establishment and updating of river basin management plans, it is necessary to provide proper information of planned measures and to report on progress with their implementation with a view to the involvement of the general public before final decisions on the necessary measures are adopted.

(47) This Directive should provide mechanisms to address obstacles to progress in improving water status when these fall outside the scope of Community water legislation, with a view to developing appropriate Community strategies for overcoming them.

(48) The Commission should present annually an updated plan for any initiatives which it intends to propose for the water sector.

(49) Technical specifications should be laid down to ensure a coherent approach in the Community as part of this Directive. Criteria for evaluation of water status are an important step forward. Adaptation of certain technical elements to technical development and the standardisation of monitoring, sampling and analysis methods should be adopted by committee procedure. To promote a thorough understanding and consistent application of the criteria for characterisation of the river basin districts and evaluation of water status, the Commission may adopt guidelines on the application of these criteria.

(50) The measures necessary for the implementation of this Directive should be adopted in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(17).

(51) The implementation of this Directive is to achieve a level of protection of waters at least equivalent to that provided in certain earlier acts, which should therefore be repealed once the relevant provisions of this Directive have been fully implemented.

(52) The provisions of this Directive take over the framework for control of pollution by dangerous substances established under Directive 76/464/EEC(18). That Directive should therefore be repealed once the relevant provisions of this Directive have been fully implemented.

(53) Full implementation and enforcement of existing environmental legislation for the protection of waters should be ensured. It is necessary to ensure the proper application of the provisions implementing this Directive throughout the Community by appropriate penalties provided for in Member States' legislation. Such penalties should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:

(4)

Opinion of the European Parliament of 11 February 1999 (OJ C 150, 28.5.1999, p. 419), confirmed on 16 September 1999, and Council Common Position of 22 October 1999 (OJ C 343, 30.11.1999, p. 1). Decision of the European Parliament of 7 September 2000 and Decision of the Council of 14 September 2000.

(8)

OJ L 20, 26.1.1980, p. 43. Directive as amended by Directive 91/692/EEC (OJ L 377, 31.12.1991, p. 48).

(13)

OJ L 240, 19.9.1977, p 1.

(16)

OJ L 229, 30.8.1980, p. 11. Directive as last amended by Directive 98/83/EC (OJ L 330, 5.12.1998, p. 32).

(18)

OJ L 129, 18.5.1976, p. 23. Directive as amended by Directive 91/692/EEC (OJ L 377, 31.12.1991, p. 48).

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