Bathing Water Directive: new timeline
The Commission has postponed the revision of the Bathing Water Directive into its next mandate (ie: after November 2024, so that the UWWTD and the Priority List of controlled surface water and groundwater pollutants are finalised).
Water Reuse: Commission discusses technical guidance
The Commission’s Working Group on Water Reuse met in Ispra 17-18 November. We were represented by Philippe Rouge (AEAS, Spain). The meeting focused on the technical guidance for the water reuse risk management plans with Member States.
Water and agriculture
Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation: water protection jeopardised
Following the presentation of the draft Regulation on June 2022, EurEau actively promoted measures to protect drinking water resources from pesticide contamination.
It is worrying to see that a majority of Member States and the Commission are willing to sacrifice water protection in order to find a compromise on the definition of sensitive areas. The discussions will continue in Council and Parliament over the next months despite the Council request for an updated impact assessment expected before the end of the year. You can read our position here.
Fertilisers: Commission presents strategy to counter crisis
The Commission presented a Communication on fertilisers proposing measures to ensure the availability and affordability of fertilisers in light of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
While this document does not provide new legislative requirements or finances, it encourages the partial replacement of mineral fertilisers by organic fertilisers including from sewage sludge. It establishes the link between the more stringent nutrient recovery targets in the new Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and farming.
The Commission will present its Nutrient Action Plan in 2023 with the aim to close nutrient cycles.
Water and the environment
WFD, EQSD and GWD: proposal published
The Commission published a proposal amending the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Environmental Quality Standards Directive (EQSD) and Groundwater Directive (GWD) on 26 October. It enlarges the list of priority substances with pharmaceuticals, pesticides and a group of 24 PFAS, and strengthens the quality standards for some of the current EQS. It also changes the provisions and procedures to regularly update the lists, and improves aspects of monitoring, reporting, EQS harmonisation at EU level and Member State cooperation.
These stricter EQS should lead to the better protection of water resources, which is a prerequisite to providing safe and affordable drinking water.
REACH restrictions: general PFAS restriction is upcoming
ECHA is finalising the opinions on the PFAS restriction in fire-fighting foams, to which EurEau submitted input. We expect the presentation of the restriction by the 4 MS (DE, NL, SE and DN) and Norway by 13 January 2023.
Germany submitted a restriction dossier on Bisphenol A and bisphenols of similar concern for the German government at the ECHA SEAC. It may affect materials in contact with water.
Mercury and RoHS: Commission postpones draft proposals
The Commission has postponed the publication of the Mercury Regulation and Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronic and electrical equipment (RoHS) review.
Dental amalgam is the principal source of mercury pollution in EU waters and we call on the Commission to phase it out by 2025. We sent a letter to the Commission together with other NGOs asking for a speed up of the revision proposal.
Pharma legislation: proposal postponed
The publication was expected for the end of this year but the Commission has postponed it. Oliver presented our position on the environmental risk assessment at the European Parliament Conference on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment on 8 November.
We ask the Commission to consider the environmental impact of medicines by including the extended environmental risk assessment in the authorisation of pharmaceuticals and to restrict marketing options for medicines containing priority substances.
REACH: Commission postpones the revision
The Commission has postponed the REACH draft proposal to Q4 2023. Most probably this will not allow the EU institutions to approve the revision before the European Parliament elections in 2024.
IED & IE Portal Regulation
The Rapporteur’s draft report on the IED was published on 14 November and contained three amendments supported by EurEau, mandating that water and waste water operators be informed of incidents or non-compliance from an industrial facility affecting them, and ensuring that risks posed to drinking water resources by industrial water discharge are assessed and addressed.
The draft report also weakened provisions to cover livestock rearing and to make emission limit values stricter, however. We do not support these changes. We would like the Directive to go further in involving water and waste water operators in the permitting process.
The deadline for amendments in the ENVI committee for both texts was 7 December. We are now waiting for the translation and publication of the amendments.
Plastics: Commission publishes Guidance on bioplastics
The Commission published a Communication specifying the EU policy framework on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics with a view to preventing false or misleading market claims. Our key demands regarding litter prevention and the impact of biodegradable plastics on water resources have been included in the final text.
The Communication is not legally binding. You can read the Communication here and the Q&A section here.
Zero Pollution: Commission publishes Monitoring and Outlook Report
As part of its Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Commission released its first Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Report.
The report presents the progress towards achieving the zero pollution targets, the latest evidence on the effects of pollution on health and biodiversity, and its links to the circular economy. The outlook assesses, where possible, the likely evolution of pollution by 2030 in relation to the Zero Pollution targets taking into account agreed or proposed actions (Source: European Commission).
Environmental liability: Commission assesses framework
The Commission organised a stakeholder workshop to assess the functioning of the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD). The official evaluation report is expected for spring 2023 and will probably lead to its revision.
The ELD establishes a framework based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage. Activities of drinking water and waste water operators are covered by direct liability.
Chips: Act threatens water resource protection
We recognise the need to secure the EU’s semiconductor supply and support the Commission’s ambition to strengthen the EU’s technological leadership, these objectives must not go against Article 191.2 (TFEU) and deteriorate the quality and quantity of groundwater and surface waters. Read more…
The draft Chips Act (draft Regulation 2022/0032(COD)), which aims to secure the EU’s access to semi-conductors, is currently before the co-legislators.
Water as an essential service
Critical Raw Material Act: Commission proposal expected in spring 2023
The Commission launched a call for evidence and a public consultation to collect input on this future regulation.
EurEau recommends an extension of the scope to all products used by critical entities like water services to ensure continuity of services.
Our reaction to the call for evidence is here and to the public consultation is here.
This initiative aims to reinforce EU monitoring capacities and strengthen both the EU value chain – through the identification of mineral resources and raw materials projects in the EU's strategic interest.