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EurEau newsletter - edition 45 - March 2020

EurEau News

Water and Covid-19

We hope that you are all keeping safe in these difficult times.

Water service providers across Europe are working hard to provide us all with safe and clean drinking water while ensuring effective waste water services. Flush only the 3P’s (pee, poop and toilet paper).

You will get more information here and specifically on waste water here.

EurEau 45th anniversary

Given the current circumstances, we decided to postpone the EurEau 45th anniversary celebrations from June 9 2020, until a date to be confirmed in 2021.

We will, of course, keep you informed.

EU news

Drinking Water Directive 

The EU institutions lawyer-linguists are working to polish the wording and strengthen the coherence of the text of the Drinking Water Directive as adopted by the Environment Council on the 5 March.

The file will have to be adopted by the European Parliament Plenary in the coming months. Due to the limited time available for plenaries, the vote may be held later than expected.

Water legislation fitness check

The European Parliament’s ENVI Committee coordinators decided that the Parliament would draft a motion for resolution on the Water legislation fitness check.

On 5 March, the Environment Council held an exchange of views on the results of the fitness check on the WFD and the UWWTD. Commissioner Sinkevicius outlined the progress achieved and the weaknesses of the EU water aquis. Environment Ministers gave their views on the fitness check and agreed that implementation should be stepped up. Some countries were convinced that adjustments could be brought without legislative changes while others raised their concerns about the consequences of the uncertainties deriving from the 2027 deadline for compliance. 

The ENVE Commission of the Committee of the Region is also drafting their opinion on the fitness check. The draft opinion can be found here.  

Aqua Publica Europea Event on the Water Fitness Check

Bertrand Vallet from the Secretariat attended a meeting on 3 March 2020 organised by Aqua Publica Europea on the fitness check of water legislation.

You can find more details here.

Fertiliser Regulation: STRUBIAS annexes added in 2021

The European Commission announced a public consultation on the new criteria for use of ‘STRUBIAS’ materials as components for CE-Mark fertilisers (CMCs), under the Fertiliser Regulation. These new materials include struvite and precipitated phosphate salts, ashes and “thermal oxidation materials” and biochars, pyrolysis and gasification materials. These criteria are expected to be adopted in the first quarter of 2021, which would be before the date of entry into application of the regulation (Source: ESPP). According to the JRC proposal, sewage sludge will be allowed as input material only for struvite and precipitated phosphate salts, ashes and “thermal oxidation materials”.

Single Use Plastics Directive: EPR must cover the sewer network

Following the 25 February stakeholder meeting to discuss the costs of litter clean-up actions, EurEau has urged the Commission and their consultants to include the sewer network in the scope of litter clean-up actions. Waste water operators already noticed that the Covid-19 crisis has lead to an increase of wet wipe use and subsequent sewer pump clogging in times of strained staff resources. Wet wipes should be disposed of in the bin!

The next stakeholder meeting (3 April 2020) will discuss the draft “guidance on identifying and describing the products covered by the SUP Directive”.

New Circular Economy Action plan

The new Circular Economy Action Plan from the European Commission was published on 11 March 2020.

You can read our thoughts on it here.

Farm-to-Fork Strategy: publication postponed amid Covid-19

The launch of the Farm-to-Fork strategy (F2F) has been put off provisionally to the 29 April 2020. The strategy will cover the whole food value chain from production to consumption and address topics such as the use of pesticides and antimicrobials.   

EurEau provided feedback to the F2F Roadmap calling for stricter measures to protect water resources. More information here.

Energy efficiency: EurEau meets DG Energy

On 26 March, EurEau held a virtual meeting with the energy efficiency financing unit of DG ENER to explain the energy efficiency potentials and related bottlenecks of the water services sector. The Commission will soon launch the assessment of the Energy Efficiency Directive which might be followed by a revision. A first public consultation is expected before the summer.

The EurEau briefing note on the energy footprint of the water sector is here.

Green investments: Proposed rules include water services

The EU Technical Expert Group on Green Finance presented its final recommendations “Taxonomy: Final report of the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance”  proposing a two-tier approach. The first category should meet strict ‘green’ criteria, while the second one covers investments that can prove they “do no significant harm”. Harm includes negative impacts on water resources.

Drinking water services are included, provided they meet certain energy efficiency criteria. Centralised waste-water treatment and anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge are included without conditions.

The European Commission will use these recommendations to develop rules defining what qualifies as a green investment.

Updated European Parliament Calendar

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, the EU institutions took various measures to limit the circulation of the virus. The European Parliament revised its calendar for 2020: the Plenary sessions will be held in Brussels (and not in Strasbourg) and they will last two half-days (mini-plenary) at least until the end of August. You can find the new EP calendar here

Pharmaceuticals in the Environment: European Parliament Motion for Resolution

The ENVI Committee adopted a Motion for Resolution on the Pharmaceuticals in the Environment Strategy on the 5 March.


  • supported the inclusion of the environment legal basis (191.2 TFEU),
  • supported the recognition of the Source-Control and Polluter Pays Principles;
  • recommended that the Environment Risk Assessment becomes a compulsory element of the risk-benefit analysis of the authorisation of human pharmaceuticals;
  • and called for the revision of the Sewage Sludge Directive in order to ensure the development of the circular economy and the protection of human health and the environment.

EurEau did not share the view that waste water treatment plants should be considered hot-spots at the same level as the pharmaceuticals production plants and hospitals since unlike the UWWTPs they can control the input to their waste water.

The ENVI Committee “calls on the Commission to include pharmaceuticals that pose a significant risk to the environment in the list of priority substances under the Water Framework Directive and set environmental quality standards and concentration limits under the Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) Directive”.  

The Plenary vote has been postponed to an undetermined date.

EFSA-ECHA Guidance Document on the impact of pesticides and biocides on water treatment processes

EurEau drinking water experts were consulted by ECHA and EFSA about drinking water treatments applied in EurEau member countries. The feedback is available here.

Innovation - Water JPI

5 March, Bruno Tisserand, Chairperson of our Committee on Economics and Legal Affairs and Bertrand Vallet from the Secretariat participated in the stakeholder advisory board meeting of the Water Joint Programming Initiative (Water JPI).

Contributions were made on a new partnership on Water in the Future Horizon Europe. It should be noted that the Water JPI members published a call for projects on “Risk posed to human health and the environment by pollutants and pathogens present in water resources”. Due to Covid-19 the deadline has been postponed to eob on 18 May 2020. More details can be found here.

Common Implementation Strategy of the WFD

The CIS WG Chemicals met on the 17 March on webex. Greet De Gueldre attended on behalf of EurEau.

On 25 March the first meeting of the ATG Economics took place. Klara Ramm (EurEau’s GA representative for Poland) and Ignacio Lozano (AEAS) attended the meeting representing EurEau. The documents from this meeting are here.

EBC benchmarking exercise

Registration for EBCs' International Benchmarking Exercise for water- and waste water utilities in Europe is open. More info and registration here. This year, on the request of many, the exercise will pay extra attention to performance in the area of the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and report on progress made there.

Joining the EBC-programme is a commitment to assess, learn and improve! 

Communications news

World Water Day

To mark World Water Day on March 21, we looked at this years theme of Climate Change and water.

International Women’s Day

We spoke to EurEau President Claudia Castell-Exner about her experience of the water sector for International Women’s Day on March 8.


***All events are on hold for the time being. Please contact the event organiser for more information***

Postponed until week 30 November - 27-30 April 2020 - The International Water Association is co-organising the first IWA Digital Water Summit together with the Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia and AEAS in Bilbao, Spain.

More: https://digitalwatersummit.org/

8-12 June 2020 - IWA’s Nutrient Recovery & Removal conference organised by Aalto University and HSY, Helsinki and Porvoo. Early bird is valid before mid March! Read more: www.iwa-nrr.org.

15-16 June 2020 - European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna, Austria. The call for abstracts for presentations for the six parallel sessions is open. More…

3 July 2020 – Lisbon, Portugal. OSPAR Ministerial Meeting.

17-18 November 2020 - 3rd Water JPI Conference from in Mulheim an der Ruhr.

25-28 May 2021 – CEOCOR; hosted by ÖVGW in Vienna, Austria.

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