Pan Europe coalition calls for tougher protection for rivers

One hundred NGOs from across Europe are calling on the public to respond to an EC consultation to express support for keeping water protections strong and effective.

The #ProtectWater campaign is an attempt led by the Living Rivers Europe coalition (WWF EU, the European Environmental Bureau, European Anglers Alliance, European Rivers Network and Wetlands International) to protect the Water Framework Directive, while it is under review. It uses provocative videos and imagery around the future of beer in particular to drive interest.

Andreas Baumüller, head of natural resources at WWF’s European policy office, said: “Member States’ half-hearted implementation of the EU water law is a crime in itself, but their desperate attempts to weaken it – and before the Commission’s fitness check has even concluded – is a step too far. We urge citizens across Europe and beyond to join forces through the #ProtectWater campaign and make their voices heard. We all need clean water, and without the Water Framework Directive, this will be under serious threat.”

The coalition pointed out that 60% of EU waters are not healthy today “because Member States have allowed them to be exploited and damaged for example by unsustainable agriculture and destructive infrastructure such as dams”. Only 14% of rivers in England are classed as healthy. Through the WFD, Member States agreed to achieve “good status” for their waters by 2027 at the very latest.

A coalition of 11 organisations coordinated by Wildlife and Countryside Link are involved from the UK: Angling Trust and Fish Legal, British Canoeing, Freshwater Habitats Trust, Institute of Fisheries Management, Marine Conservation Society, The Rivers Trust, RSPB, Salmon and Trout Conservation, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), WWF-UK and ZSL Zoological Society of London. The groups argue it is essential to support this law in the UK, as any weakening of this EU legislation will be transposed into UK law post-Brexit and will mean weaker protections for UK waters.

The consultation runs until 4 March 2019.