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Commission proposes Water Framework Directive

At its meeting of 26 February 1997, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for European Union action in the field of water policy. The proposal defines a common approach, common objectives and principles, common definitions and ba...
At its meeting of 26 February 1997, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for European Union action in the field of water policy. The proposal defines a common approach, common objectives and principles, common definitions and basic measures and is designed to prevent further deterioration in the EU's water situation.

The proposed EU Water Framework Directive aims to protect and enhance the quality and quantity of European aquatic ecosystems and, by doing so, contribute to the provision of a supply of water in the quantities and qualities needed for sustainable development. Its key objectives include:

- The focusing of environmental water policy on water as it flows naturally through river basins towards the sea;
- Consideration of both surface and groundwater, taking into account the natural interaction between them both qualitatively and quantitatively;
- The objective of achieving good status of all waters by 2010;
- Designation of "protected areas" with special requirements.

The proposal's benefits are that it will lead to a more rational protection and use of water, to reduced water treatment costs, to increased amenity value of surface waters and to a much more coordinated administration of waters. The ultimate benefit, of course, is that the sustainability of water use will be ensured.

The Commission's proposal, tabled by Mrs. Ritt Bjerregaard, Commissioner responsible for the environment, is the final result of a long and fruitful consultation on the future direction of European Union water policy set up in response to requests from Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Commenting on the adoption of the proposal, Commissioner Bjerregaard stresssed that: "This important proposal is on the cutting edge of environmental protection. (...) The proposal for a Water Framework Directive will lead to the reform and rationalization of the European Union water policy and take it into the 21st century".
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