EurEau newsletter - March 2023
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EurEau welcomes the Lithuanian association Vandens Jėga
EurEau welcomes the Lithuanian association Vandens Jėga, bringing our membership to 37 members in 32 countries. Welcome Vandens Jéga!
Christophe Hansen MEP hosted a hybrid event in the European Parliament on 9 March on the revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. We were represented by Michaël Bentvelsen, co-chairperson of our committee on waste water. You can read our position on the UWWTD here.
On 14 March, Oliver Loebel, EurEau Secretary General, addressed the Committee of the Regions at the stakeholder meeting dedicated to the UWWTD revision.
Oliver gave an interview to Greek public TV on the topic of drinking water quality in Europe on 15 March. He was also interviewed by the German REGULATE project on 24 March.
On 15 March, Gari Villa-Landa, EurEau Senior Policy Advisor, participated in the XV Esamur Water Reuse Congress (Cartagena, Spain), providing an overview of the implementation of the EU Water Reuse Regulation.
Michal Wiezik MEP hosted a webinar on the Industrial Emissions Directive on 21 March, where Sébastien Mouret, EurEau Policy Advisor, presented our position.
The first UN water conference in almost 50 years took place in New York, around the occasion of World Water Day. We were represented at the multi-day event by Mariano Blanco (AEAS), our General Assembly Representative from Spain and Executive Committee member. Read more …
Gari Villa-Landa presented our main concerns regarding the Commission’s Proposal for the future UWWTD on 29 March during a Stakeholder Consultation organised by Deirdre Clune MEP.
UWWTD: rapporteur presents draft report
We submitted our suggestions for amendments to the UWWTD to all MEPs in the European Parliament’s Environment (ENVI) Committee, as well as to other relevant stakeholders.
Nils Torvald MEP – responsible for the UWWTD in the European Parliament – published his draft report on the proposal on 27 March. Our reaction to it is here. We welcome his amendment regarding the energy neutrality targets providing a holistic approach to the matter which reflects the reality of the wastewater sector. Regarding EPR, we maintain our strong support for the Commission proposal as an appropriate way of implementing the Polluter Pays Principle in the water sector.
We co-signed a letter from a large group of stakeholders to support the EPR financing mechanism proposed by the European Commission. Doing so will help to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the costs involved in removing micro-pollutants from waste water in the proposed revision of the UWWTD.
The Commission’s Working Group on Water Reuse met on 13-14 March to discuss the future delegated act on the technical specifications for the water reuse risk management plans.
Water and agriculture
Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation: Parliament timetable agreed
Following weeks of tense discussions, the Parliament’s ENVI and AGRI committees agreed on the timetable for approving the first-reading position on the SUR. AGRI should vote on its report in July while ENVI should vote in September 2023. The plenary vote is indicatively set for the beginning of October. Negotiations with the Council should stretch well into 2024.
In response to the Council’s request, the Commission committed to providing additional data on the impact of the SUR on food security. However, data on the pesticide use per crop and substance and Member State are not available, the Commission stated.
EurEau has called on decision-makers to improve the protection of drinking water resources.
You can read our position here.
Pesticides: Commission fixes rules for digital use records
The European Commission published the Implementing Regulation as regards the content and format of the records of Plant Protection Products (PPP) pursuant to Regulation 1107/2009 and its Annex.
EurEau welcomes this publication, as it confirms that under Art. 67(1) of Regulation 1107/2009, professional PPP users are to make the relevant information available to the competent authority on request. Furthermore, third parties have the right to access that information. It also stipulates that PPP users must keep the records electronically using a machine-readable format and must record each use of a PPP without undue delay from 2026 onwards. The records must comprise the product name, the date of application, the amount applied, the unit of land and the number of hectares treated.
This information should facilitate risk assessment and management measures as required by the Drinking Water Directive.
Water and the environment
WFD, EQSD and GWD: Amendments submitted
We submitted our suggestions for amendments to the Rapporteur and Shadow Rapporteurs in the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee.
We stress the importance of prioritising control at source measures to tackle emissions in the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the Environmental Quality Standards Directive (EQSD) and the Groundwater Directive (GWD), as well as in the upstream regulations on chemicals, industrial emissions, pharmaceuticals and plant protection products. We also support the Rapporteur’s amendment for an EPR scheme to cover the monitoring costs.
Chemicals: CLP annexes on new hazard classes published
The Official Journal of the European Union published the Commission’s Delegated Regulation (EU) 2023/707 amending Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 as regards hazard classes and criteria for the classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures (31 March).
The Commission has adopted new hazard classes and criteria for endocrine disruptor (ED), persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT), very persistent and very mobile (vPvM), persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) substances and mixtures.
The new classification will be used across the EU legislation and will eventually allow for the faster restriction of hazardous substances under REACH when it is revised and the generic approach to risk management is extended to the new hazard classes. We are very satisfied that persistent and mobile substances that pose a special risk to water have been included. Read more …
Universal PFAS restriction: ECHA Committees launches public consultation
The socio-economic (SEAC) and risk assessment (RAC) ECHA Committees have launched the first public consultation on the universal PFAS restriction, running from 22 March to 25 September. ECHA will have a webinar on 5 April to explain the consultation.
The restriction proposal covers 14 sectoral uses, divided into sub-uses, demanding an immediate (after 18 months of the entry into force) ban for many of the uses, including most of those with consumer products, and a ban after transitional periods of five or twelve years for those industrial uses whose alternative assessments showed that no alternatives were fully available.
Energy: Co-legislators reach agreement on renewables
Council and Parliament agreed on all remaining details of the revised Renewable Energy Directive. The deal includes a binding target to raise the share of renewables in the EU’s overall energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030. Furthermore, Member States can opt for an additional and indicative 2.5%. For comparison, the current share stands at about 22%. Part of the agreement are targets for buildings and, importantly, measures to speed up permitting processes for wind and solar projects through so-called acceleration areas.
We welcome the agreement and hope that Member States will take measures to support renewable generation in the water services sector.
The directive should be officially approved before the summer break.
Waste Framework Directive: Commission proposals postponed
The targeted revision of this directive, initially announced for June 2023, has been postponed due to a negative opinion of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board. The revision will be limited to food waste and textiles.
Pharmaceuticals: Legislative proposals again postponed
The Commission proposals for the revision of the pharmaceuticals legislation, due on 29 March 2023, have been postponed again. The new publication date is not known yet.
EurEau has urged the Commission to strengthen the environmental credentials of this legislation through an extended Environmental Risk Assessment and measures limiting over-the-counter sales of particularly harmful substances.
Industrial Emission Directive: Council adopts general approach
The Environment Council adopted its position on the IED at its 16 March meeting. While the general approach introduced no water-specific amendments and generally lowered the environmental ambition of the Commission proposal, it endorsed the proposal’s binding water efficiency targets for industry, known as environmental performance limit values.
Meanwhile, the Parliament’s ENVI committee has postponed its scheduled vote on the text from 27 April to 25 May 2023. The AGRI opinion vote has also been postponed (to 25 April), while the ITRE opinion, calling for less administrative burden on industry, was adopted on 29 March.
Water as an essential service
Cyber Security: Digital Europe funding programme published
The Commission published its 2023-24 work programme for Europe’s digital transition including a dedicated section for cybersecurity.
The specific work programme on cybersecurity reserves €35 million for developing a Cybersecurity Emergency Mechanism. Its goal is to finance critical entities to conduct cybersecurity audits, and incident response services provided by a group of certified security providers (European Cyber Reserve). Another €84 million will be used to enhance Security Operation Centres (SOCs), and regional structures to monitor, predict, and respond to cyber incidents.
Critical Raw Materials: falls short on circularity
The proposed Critical Raw Materials (CRM) Regulation offers welcome safeguards from pollution for water bodies but fails to address the needs of critical entities and falls short in its circularity ambitions.
We give a cautious welcome to the legislative proposal for a Critical Raw Materials Regulation. We strongly support the Commission’s choice not to exempt strategic raw materials projects from performing environmental impact assessments. Our reaction to the proposal…
Raw materials are found at the beginning of all industrial value chains. The focus of this Regulation is on non-energy, non-agricultural raw materials that are important for the EU economy, the supplies of which are subject to a high level of supply risk.
Innovation Sharing Platform news
We are planning to host a webinar on Critical Materials later this month. We will send more details soon.
We have also been in contact with colleagues in other countries hosting collaborative spaces for water projects. You can check out Winnovatie and Spring for more.
Winnovatie is the innovation and collaboration platform of the Dutch water authorities. By working together, the water boards can see which solutions already exist and they can inspire each other. If they have a situation without a solution, they can crowdsource a solution in the form of a ‘challenge’. Challenges can be technical in nature, but they can also involve social innovation; working together for a sustainable future.
Spring is dedicated to accelerating UK & Ireland water sector transformation through innovation and collaboration. They connect, integrate and augment existing excellence within and outside the water sector, actively involving other companies and continuously injecting innovation into the industry through learnings and best practices.
World Water Day 2023: Accelerating change
Everything changes and your water services providers need to keep up with changes in order to provide safe water services. The theme of this year’s WWD was ‘accelerating change’. Read our views here.
R&D calls: Commission announces new calls for proposals
Calls for nutrient research will open on 17 October 2023, with a (first) submission deadline 22nd February 2024 (both one- and two-stage calls):
- respecting safe ecological and regional nitrogen and phosphorus boundaries,
- recovered / recycled fertilising products from secondary raw materials,
- irrigation practices and technologies in agriculture, including potential of sewage sludge and other biowaste streams, ensuring high agronomic efficiency of the nutrients they contain,
- inputs in organic farming,
- decentralised approaches for water and wastewater management,
- monitoring of water quality in urban areas.
Water management: New reports released
Over the past years, DG Environment and the OECD conducted a joint project to provide practical guidance to Members States with a view to accelerating the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. The OECD has now presented a report summarising the conclusions of several stakeholder workshops to which EurEau had actively contributed.
The report is available here.
The European Investment Bank published a report on microplastics and micropollutants, their impact on the aquatic environment and mitigation strategies.
The report is available here.
23-25 May 2023 - international conference on cyber security taking place in Romania; more details when we have them.
3-11 June 2023 – Green Week, as part of the European Year of Skills, the EU Green Week Partner Events will focus on skills for sustainable, resilient, and socially fair communities. You can find out more about organising a partner event on this website. Registrations will be open between 1 and 15 March.
5-7 September 2023 – NORDIWA call for abstracts for the conference to take place in Gothenburg, Sweden. More on NORDIWA: Home (trippus.net) …
4-6 October 2023 - Smart Cities, Poland; More information soon.