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EurEau Newsletter - February 2024

EurEau News

Speaking out

Sébastien Mouret, EurEau Policy Advisor, was at the British Water Micropollutants Conference in Leeds (UK) on 8 February, speaking about the impact of micropollutants on the European water sector.

Sébastien also presented EurEau’s work at the European Union of Water Management Associations (EUWMA) Young Professionals Event held in Brussels on 27 February.

Oliver Loebel, EurEau Secretary General met with a delegation of our members visiting from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark on 5 March.

Looking ahead, Sébastien will be joined by Anders Finnson, chairperson of our Joint Working Group on the WFD will speak at the the ESPP workshop on 13-14 March. More details are in the events section.


EU news

Water legislation

Water Resilience Initiative: abandoned or just on hold?

The Water Resilience Initiative (WRI), previously announced by Commission President von der Leyen, has been put on hold, days before its expected publication.

EurEau is disappointed by the unexpected move which disregards the increasing pressure on this precious resource. See our reaction.

The WRI was developed as a thought starter for the next Commission to ensure that future generations have access to sufficient, quality water to sustain our societies.

Despite the news on the WRI, the EU Green Week 2024 partner events (29 May – 1 September 2024), will still be focused on water resilience. The application for partner events opened on 4 March 2024, and will last until 17 March.


UWWTD: trilogue agreement

Agreement was reached on several key topics in trilogues on 29 January and 21 February. The agreements led to several improvements that will allow for a better implementation of the directive and will keep our wastewater services fit for purpose for many years. The final agreement is expected in March (after the COREPER meeting on 1 March and the EP ENVI Committee meeting on 11 March). Due to the corrigendum procedure, the final text will not be formally approved and published before October/November.


Water and agriculture

Nitrates Directive: Evaluation launched

The Commission launched the evaluation of this 1991 Directive with a call for evidence and a public consultation, with a deadline in early March. We are preparing our reaction for the 8 March deadline.

The goal of this directive is the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. Despite some progress over the past years, many drinking water resources still show elevated nitrate levels, requiring expensive extra treatment by drinking water suppliers.


Soil Monitoring Directive: votes upcoming

The Parliament is moving to finalise its position on the Soil Monitoring Directive, a text meant to address the fact that 60% of European soils are in an unhealthy state, often with adverse consequences on groundwater resources. MEPs face a choice between a minimalist approach focused largely on monitoring alone, or a more ambitious stance compelling Member States to act to improve soil health. The vote in the ENVI Committee is due to take place on 11 March, with the Plenary in April. We continue to keep an eye on this file.


Water and the environment

PFAS: restriction: EurEau open letter to Commission president

EurEau sent an open letter to Commission President von der Leyen calling on the Commission to maintain its support of the universal PFAS restriction in preparation by ECHA. Without a prompt and far-reaching ban, the water sector will be unable to meet its Green Deal ambitions. The persistence of these ‘forever chemicals’ means that our water resources will remain contaminated for decades to come. 

Related to PFAS, Member State representatives in the REACH Committee approved the restriction of perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), but excluded industrial uses of the substance.


Nature Restauration Law: Parliament approves Trilogue deal

The Parliament’s Plenary narrowly approved the provisional agreement agreed with Member States in Trilogue.

EurEau supports this initiative, as healthy natural spaces protect and replenish our scarce water resources.

Member States still have to give their final nod on the compromise text. 


Microplastics pollution: Commission proposal to prevent pellet losses

Our position paper on the Commission’s proposal to prevent pellet losses to reduce microplastics is published and circulated.  EurEau welcomes and strongly supports the proposal, which will allow for a regulatory framework implementing control at source for a relevant part of microplastics unintentionally released to the environment, and it will contribute not only to protecting water resources but also to meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal, the Zero Pollution Action Plan, as well as the New Action Plan on The Circular Economy.

Meanwhile, in the Parliament, the vote in the ENVI Committee is scheduled for 19 March 2024 and the vote in Plenary for 22 April 2024.


Mercury Regulation: agreement reached

A provisional political agreement was reached in the trialogue on 8 February 2024, with a ban on the use and exportation of dental amalgam from 01 January 2025 (with the exception of some specific medical needs of the patient). EurEau welcomes the news as we have been calling for this ban for many years. 

Amalgam is one of the most important sources of mercury in our surface waters. The urgency is exacerbated by the long life span of amalgam fillings meaning that mercury will leach into the environment long after the ban has entered into force.

This ban will also contribute to the circular economy.


Pharmaceuticals Legislation: vote imminent

Rapporteurs Pernille Weiss (EPP-DK) and Tiemo Wölken (S&D-DE) are wrapping up talks over compromise amendments on the Pharmaceuticals Legislative Package, a duo of legislative texts aiming among other things to ensure that the environmental impact of medicines is taken into account when deciding whether to green-light them for sale. The vote in the ENVI Committee has been pushed back to 19 March for a last-minute extension of the negotiations over compromise amendments. A Plenary vote is still expected to take place in April.


Industrial Emissions Directive: trouble ahead?

Last December the Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on a common version of the IED revision which was since endorsed by the ENVI Committee in Parliament and by COREPER in Council, with important advances for the protection of water services. However, some MEPs wish to reopen the negotiations.

The Parliament Plenary vote on the trilogue text is scheduled for 11 March. There will be amendments seeking to reopen pig & poultry clauses. If adopted, this could trigger a reopening of the whole text, depending on how the Council reacts. We support maintaining the text as it is.

Read our reaction here.


Detergents Regulation: Cleaning up our environment

The European Parliament’s Plenary approved its first-reading position on this Regulation. We welcome MEP’s support for reducing phosphorous use in detergents, laying a pathway towards biodegradable detergent ingredients and banning non-water soluble films around tabs.

Furthermore, the Commission will be tasked with assessing a full phosphorous phase-out and of phasing out substances of concern, the impact of microorganisms on urban wastewater treatment processes and the risk of antimicrobial resistances associated with biocides in detergents.  

As progress in Council remains slow, the Regulation is unlikely to be approved before the European elections.

You can read our position here.


Bisphenols: public consultation published

The Commission launched a public consultation on the draft Commission Regulation banning Bisphenol A and other bisphenols from use in food contact materials.

Given the health hazards linked to these substances, we strongly support the proposal. Stark control-at-source measures are needed to prevent bisphenols from entering the water cycle.

Tolerable human intake levels, particularly for BPA, have decreased dramatically over recent years.


Water as an essential service

Inspire Directive: Revision process launched

The Commission has officially launched the revision of the INSPIRE Directive with the publication of a Call for Evidence as part of the GreenDate4All initiative. We are preparing input to this consultation which is running until 25 March 2024.

We support an open data space but call for geo-spatial data on critical infrastructures to be accessible only to public authorities.

INSPIRE provides for the development of an online portal to enable geospatial data on the environment to be shared among public authorities in Europe.

The Commission is expected to launch a public consultation in spring 2024.


Gigabit Infrastructure Act (Broadband): Moving towards adoption

The trilogue agreement of the Gigabit Infrastructure Act has been confirmed by the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee and COREPER and is set to be voted on in plenary on 22 April.

Our key concerns are included in the text: drinking water infrastructure continues to be exempted from the scope of the regulation and a reference to the obligations of the NIS Directive (Cybersecurity) has been made when it comes to the sharing of data of critical infrastructure.


Other news

COM Ad hoc Task Group Water Scarcity & Droughts (ATG WS&D)

The mandate of the ATG WS&D will end Q3-Q4 2024.

Some of our members have been contributing to the drafting of the two deliverables where EurEau is active (being part of the core groups working on them):

  • Deliverable 5 - Towards a water-resilient Europe.
  • Deliverable 6 – allocation mechanisms: suggestions to be provided on examples of water allocation mechanisms and policy recommendations (in particular if linked to WS&D).


EBC Foundation: New benchmarking cycle launched

The EBC Foundation, of which EurEau is a founder member, offers drinking water and wastewater companies from Europe and beyond a benchmarking- and improvement programme for water services.

Every year, EBC organises a benchmarking exercise (performance assessment and knowledge exchange activities) to learn from each other’s good practices and innovations. Currently, EBC is preparing the 18th edition (IB2023) and invites water- and wastewater utilities from across Europe to join.

Information about the new benchmarking cycle is available at EBC’s website The exercise kicks off on 6 May 2024 and runs till 4 December 2024. The annual benchmarking workshop will be jointly organised with SMAT Utility from Turin, Italy (preliminary date: 6-8 November 2024).

If you would like to know more about the EBC programme and participation, you may contact programme coordinator Viktoria Iskova via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

EBC welcomes all interested European water- and wastewater utilities to join the programme!



12 March 2024 - Water Conference: Speeding up to a water resilient Europe. Towards an EU water resilience agenda; Leuven, Belgium. More…


12 March 2024 - Micropollutants in Swiss WWTPs: experiences and outlook. Online and in Luzern, Switzerland. This event will be simultaneously translated into English. Online participation is possible. Further information can be found in the text below and the conference programme (Link). You can register here: Link


13 March 2024 - Make it Rain; water utility financing in the Danube region. The webinar will increase the understanding and knowledge around water utility financing in the Danube region and share best-practice examples of how to manage the situation.

For more information about the webinar including the agenda, see here.


13 and 14 March 2024 - ESPP’s industry–stakeholder workshops to define the input to policies for nutrient recycling, Brussels Belgium and online
13th March: policy tools to support markets for recycled nutrients. Our Sébastien Mouret and Anders Finnson will speak at it.
14th March: EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive ‘reuse & recycling rates’ for Phosphorus & Nitrogen
Brussels & online; link.   
Registration: link


14 and 15 March 2024 - Annual Conference on EU Environmental Law 2024, ERA. Trier, Germany and Online. Includes sessions on the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and the revision of Surface Water and Groundwater, Polluting Substances and Preparing for 2027 Water Quality Objectives: a multi-stakeholder approach. link


18 March 2024 - Fluoropolymer webinar: Insights from the OECD, science updates and safer alternatives in focus; Online| ChemSec


19-20 March 2024 - Launching GLOWACON: the Global Consortium for Wastewater and Environmental Surveillance for Public Health. The event will be held in Brussels. More…


21 March 2024 - Prevention measures and management of DBPs, focussing on preventive measures and practices to secure drinking water quality and mitigate drinking water challenges - such as the spread of DBPs - along the whole drinking water chain. The event will take place online via ZOOM from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm (Brussels time). More…


14-17 April 2024 – IWA Water Loss, San Sebastian, Spain. Many of the world’s leading experts in the field of Non-Revenue Water Management will be present and will discuss the latest developments, strategies, techniques and applications of international best practices as well as successful case studies.


29-30 May 2024 - EU Green Week 2024 will focus on water resilience this year.


5-7 June 2024 – Urban Future, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Thousands of CityChangers from all over the world share how they create transformation and which mistakes are made, accelerating change and successfully shaping the future of our cities. This year's theme will look at water. More

19-20 September 2024 - Achieving Zero Pollution of Persistent and Mobile Substances through Substance Grouping and Risk Assessment workshop, Dessau, Germany. Hosted by UBA.

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