European Parliament signals to Commission and Member States: better compliance with EU water law needed

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Today, the European Parliament’s Plenary has voted in favour of a Motion for Resolution on the Implementation of the EU water legislation. MEPs call on the Commission and Member States to address the significant shortcomings in the implementation of EU water legislation, most notably the Water Framework Directive (WFD). They stress the need to improve compliance with and speed up the implementation of water legislation. MEPs also underline that rivers and wetlands are most at risk and measures must be taken to reduce pressures and to respect freshwater biodiversity.

The Motion for Resolution was adopted with a majority of 622 votes against 23 rejections and 43 abstentions. Wetlands International Europe welcomes the recommendations of the Parliament which appeal for a better protection of Europe’s aquatic ecosystems, more restoration measures in degraded water bodies and full compliance with the WFD before its 2027 deadline. We appreciate the call for “increased action with sufficient funding to improve fish migration throughout the EU […]” and for improved monitoring of water bodies. We greatly support the Parliament’s request towards Commission and Member States to prioritise and financially support nature-based solutions including restoration of wetlands and floodplains and rewetting drained peatlands.

While MEPs rightly acknowledge that the construction of dams are a major pressure on water bodies and biodiversity, and state that water in protected areas should be safeguarded from hydropower projects, they leave space for the EU to finance new hydropower plants in other areas. This can lead to increased hydromorphological pressures on Europe’s rivers and accelerate the loss of migratory fish species, such as eel. Last month, the European Environment Agency’s State of Nature report found that hydropower was the most damaging to ecosystems compared to other renewable energy alternatives. Several studies show that climate neutrality can be achieved by 2040 without new hydropower capacity, for example the Paris Agreement compatible scenarios for energy infrastructure.

MEP Nicolae Ștefănuță at EP Plenary session – Joint debate – Water legislation © European Union 2020 – Source: EP

 


Read WWF’s/Living Rivers Europe’s press release here.

Read the European Parliament’s press release here.

Header image © Guillaume Périgois on Unsplash