On february 26 th 2019 the European Commission issued its latest report on how Member States are implementing the EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) through their River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) for the period 2015-2021. The RBMPs are intended to serve as roadmaps for conserving and restoring freshwater ecosystems across the EU. While there has been progress in more effective implementation compared to the 2009-2015 cycle, only a limited number of water bodies have improved in status. The actions taken to date fall far short of what is needed to bring Europe’s freshwater ecosystems into good health by the deadline of 2027 as required by law.
The Commission noted several potential barriers to achieving the 2027 deadline for good status, such as Member States’ lack of adequate funding and the persistent use of exemptions covering nearly half of Europe’s waters. It is also highly concerning that for a large proportion of water bodies, the reported impacts of anthropogenic origin and pressures of drivers (especially hydro-morphological pressures) are still unknown. Without knowing these impacts and their drivers it is hard if not impossible for Member States to address the root causes preventing good quality. This needs to change, at latest in the next RBMPs.