Potocnik welcomes 'weaker' rules on water pollution

8th August 2013

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  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Control ,
  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Water ,
  • EU



New European legislation to tackle water pollution will offer greater protection for the environment despite being "substantially weakened" during negotiations with member states, according to environment commissioner Janez Potocnik

Member states and EU authorities agreed the final text of the new Directive on Priority Substances for Water at its first reading in July.

Potocnik described the agreement as a “much needed” update to existing legislation, but conceded that the commission’s original proposal had been considerably diminished. “I remain convinced the final result will make a significant contribution to improving water quality,” he argued.

In September 2012, the European Commission outlined its proposals to update the list of 41 substances contained in the 2008 Priority Substances Directive (2008/105/EC), which member states have to control by 2015.

The plans included 15 new substances that by 2027 should no longer enter watercourses. After negotiations, however, only 12 of the substances have been included in the legislation, with the remaining three – all pharmaceutical materials – placed on a new “watch list”, which has been created to improve the evidence base for adding new priority substances.

Other changes to the Directive include making data on water pollution easier for the public to understand.

Meanwhile, the European Environment Agency has concluded that, although the EU has successfully agreed a wide range of policies to protect the environment and support the transition to a green economy, long-term implementation remains a challenge.

In a new report, the agency outlines how European legislation has introduced 130 environmental goals that have to be met during 2010–50. However, of the 63 that are legally-binding, only one has been made for post-2020.

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