The European Commission has arrived at a “mixed” verdict on the fitness of purpose of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) along with the Groundwater Directive, the Environmental Quality Standards Directive and Floods Directive.
After a so-called fitness check on the the WFD and the other three directives, the Commission concluded: “In sum the directives are fit for purpose, with some scope to improve." It said chemical pollution was “the key area where there was room to improve."
In its summary report the Commission said the WFD has been successful in setting up a governance framework for integrated water management for 110,000 water bodies in the European Union, slowing down the deterioration of water status and reducing chemical pollution. But it went on to say there had in recent times been “no substantial progress in water bodies’ overall status.”
Failure to reach the WFD’s objectives was, according to the Commission, “ largely due to insufficient funding, slow implementation and insufficient integration of environmental objectives in sectoral policies, and not due to a deficiency in the legislation.” The Commission conceded that making progress visible was restricted by the "one-out-all-out" principle that it applied to the protection of water bodies whereby good status was not granted when any of the test parameters were less than good.