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Council agrees on plans for water policy

The Council of the European Union (EU) has agreed a draft Directive on water policy, which aims to rejuvenate Europe's polluted waters by the year 2010.

The Directive would apply to quality standards and emission limit values and would be implemented through river-basin-manag...
The Council of the European Union (EU) has agreed a draft Directive on water policy, which aims to rejuvenate Europe's polluted waters by the year 2010.

The Directive would apply to quality standards and emission limit values and would be implemented through river-basin-management plans, rather than political or administrative divisions.

The draft Directive sets out the following requirements for river basins in the EU:

- An assessment of the characteristics of the basin;
- The establishment of Programmes of Measures to achieve the objectives of the Directive;
- A summary of all of the above in a "River Basin Management Plan";
- Public consultation on that Plan.

The draft Directive also contains:

- A mechanism to take account of the principle of recovery of costs for water services;
- Action to combat accidental pollution;
- Specific provisions on discharges of dangerous substances from small industrial installations not covered by the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC);
- The possibility of designating "protected areas";
- A procedure for the development of coordinated strategies for dealing with pollution by individual pollutants or groups of pollutants.

According to the Council, the draft Directive is intended to develop integrated and coherent water policies and provide a "safety net" to identify which water issues urgently need attention.

The draft Directive is also intended to establish a basis for the collection and analysis of information on the state of the aquatic environment. This would be used to formulate policies for sustainability. It also calls for transparency based on the publication and dissemination of information and public consultation.

A common position on the draft Directive will be formally adopted once the text has been finalised. It will then go to the European Parliament for a second reading.

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