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European Commission reviews progress made in water quality and flood risk management

6 March 2019

Latest six-yearly report show clear positive trend, but rapid improvements still needed to meet the agreed quality standards on time.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “EU water law is a considerable success, reversing a long-standing trend of decline. But there is still much to do – most of Europe’s 130 000 water bodies are falling short of the high standards we need. I am calling on Member States to step up their efforts and ensure we deliver the quality that citizens need and nature requires, as soon as possible.”

This report looks at how Member States have implemented EU water legislation, highlighting successes and shortcomings. It assesses Member States’ river basin management plans that run from 2015 to 2021. It follows a 2018 report from the European Environment Agency showing that water quality in Europe is slowly improving, thanks to urban wastewater treatment, reduced pollution from agriculture and greater numbers of rivers and lakes returning to a more natural state. But problems remain throughout the EU with chemical pollution, over-abstraction of water, in particular for agriculture, and thousands of obstacles hindering the natural flow for rivers, with negative consequences for water quality.

These findings include significant improvements in knowledge and reporting on the Water Framework Directive compared to the previous reporting cycle. More Member States reported in a timely manner, with more comprehensive, relevant and reliable information.

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