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EU commits to the Water Framework Directive:
rejecting attempts by member states to weaken it
The European Commission has completed its review of the Water Framework Directive after pressure from a
number of member states to reduce
some of the requirements it places on
countries to protect and improve
rivers and water bodies.
The EU has concluded the Water
Framework Directive is “fit for purpose”, acknowledging that the objectives of the law “are as relevant now
as they were at the time of the adoption” and that the law has led to “a
higher level of protection for water
bodies and flood risk management”.
This concludes the two-year evaluation of the Water Framework Directive and, by discarding the possibility
of revision, sets the EU back on
course to bring life back to its rivers
through full implementation and
e n f o r c e m e n t o f t h e l a w. T h i s i s
exactly what the European Anglers
Alliance, including the Angling Trust,
had called for, as part of the Living
Rivers Europe coalition. Protecting
EU waters is crucial for healthy fish
stocks and thus for the recreational
fishing sector.
The message from the European
C o m m i s s i o n i s c l e a r : t h e Wa t e r
Framework Directive is a critical pillar
of the EU’s environmental legislation
and is here to stay in its current form.
The results of this review highlight
that the delay in reaching the Water
Framework Directive’s objectives is
“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 conclusions come hot on the
10 Big Carp
heels of the European Environment
Agency’s State of the Environment
Report 2020, which highlighted the
Water Framework Directive as being
essential to halting and reversing biodiversity loss. The conclusions are
strongly supported by WWF, European Environment Bureau, Wetlands
International, the European Rivers
Network and European Anglers
Alliance - who together form the Living Rivers Europe coalition and led
the #ProtectWater campaign to safeguard the Water Farmework Directive.
The Angling Trust’s Head of Freshwater, Mark Owen, who is the Freshwater Policy Advisor to the European
Anglers Alliance and Living Rivers
Europe partner, said:
“For 20 years we have been battling Member States to properly
implement the Water Framework
Directive as the most sustainable way
of restoring fish stocks for the millions
of anglers who take part in recre-
ational fishing, the thousands of jobs
that depend on angling together with
the rural economies that directly benefit from angling tourism. Now that
the review has determined that the
Water Framework Directive is not
only fit for purpose but that failure is
due to lack of implementation by
member states, we would expect
urgent action to conform with the
present legal requirements to deliver
for fish and fishing.”
As the UK leaves the EU it is vital
that the commitments and standards
set out in the Water Framework Directive are maintained, implemented and
where possible improved upon in the
law, policies and management of the
country’s freshwater. The gifts people and nature receive from healthy
rivers, lakes and wetlands are key to
delivering the government’s 25-year
environment plan and their aspiration
to be the “first generation to leave the
environment in a better state than we
found it”. From supporting climate
adaptation to protecting biodiversity,
fuelling sustainable food systems to
thriving economies, a strong Water
Framework Directive forms the necessary baseline to secure all the benefits healthy freshwater ecosystems
There is a long way to go. With
only 14 per cent of our waters meeting “good ecological status” the
Angling Trust will continue to fight
for healthy rivers and water bodies
supporting health fish population.
For more information:Stuart Singlet o n - W h i t e, H e a d o f C a m p a i g n s ,
A n g l i n g Tr u s t s t u a r t . s i n g l e t o n tel: 07487
526913. n

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