375,386 people have called on the European Commission to defend Europe’s strong water law, making the EU’s public consultation on the legislation one of the largest ever in the history of the European Union. This law is critical to ensure that Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands are protected and brought back to good health.
“Concerned citizens sent a loud and clear message to their governments in favour of protecting and restoring Europe’s lakes, rivers and wetlands”, said Cy Griffin, Programme Manager of the Wetlands International – European Association. “We call on Member States to listen to this overwhelming support to make our waters healthier, instead of dragging their feet in implementing the EU water law and putting their energies into weakening it.”
The NGO-led #ProtectWater campaign inspired citizens across Europe and beyond to take a stand for Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the strong law which protects them, the EU Water Framework Directive, during the European Commission’s ongoing fitness-check.
The #ProtectWater campaign was led by WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Anglers Alliance, the European Rivers Network and Wetlands International – who together form the Living Rivers Europe Coalition. It facilitated citizens’ participation in the European Commission’s public consultation on the Water Framework Directive (the only opportunity for the general public to have its say during the EU fitness-check) to express their clear opposition to changing the legislation. It was launched in October 2018 and went on to be supported by more than 130 civil society organisations, including national partners and offices of Greenpeace, BirdLife and Friends of the Earth, as well as unions.
The EU’s official analysis of the public consultation, which closed on 11 March, is likely to be published in the autumn of 2019, with the final decision on the future of the legislation expected by the first half of 2020. As Living Rivers Europe, we will be there every step of the way to ensure that the Water Framework Directive remains intact, and will continue to push for this visionary legislation to be fully implemented by Member States and enforced by the European Commission so that the vast majority of Europe’s waters are returned to good health by 2027 (at the absolute latest).
Read Wetlands International – European Association’s submission to the Fitness Check consultation
About the #ProtectWater campaign:
- The goal of #ProtectWater is simple: to defend the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and in doing so, protect Europe’s rivers, lakes, groundwater and wetlands, and the wildlife they house, for generations to come.
- The campaign was led by Living Rivers Europe (WWF’s European network, the European Anglers Alliance, European Environmental Bureau, European Rivers Network, and Wetlands International), who together represent a movement of over 40 million people across Europe.
- 130+ civil society groups went on to support the campaign
- For more information, please visit livingrivers.eu
About the state of water in Europe:
- According to the European Environment Agency’s 2018 report, European waters: Assessment of status and pressures 2018, only 40% of EU surface waters are currently healthy
- Implementation of EU water legislation has, on the whole, been poor and unambitious. The vast majority of Member States are continuing to use (and misuse) the various types of exemptions provided under the WFD. Indeed, the European Commission’s latest reports on implementation of the Water Framework Directive and Floods Directive showed that around half of Europe’s water bodies (surface and groundwater) are currently under exemption.