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EurEau newsletter - June 2024

EurEau News

Speaking out

We participated in the EU’s Green Week, 29-30 May. Pär Dalhielm, EurEau President, spoke at a DG Environment Green Week event on 30.05 entitled ‘Our very source of wellbeing: clean, affordable water and sanitation for all’. Oliver Loebel spoke at an event we co-organised on 04.06. with the Gothenburg European Office and Svenskt Vatten on ‘An ambitious EU chemicals strategy’.

Brian Murphy, interim co-Chairperson of our JWG on Energy and Climate represented us at the panel discussion on how the water and wastewater sector can increase resilient energy supply at the ResNRJwater event in Essen, Germany (11 June).

Harrie Timmer (Vewin, the Netherlands) spoke on behalf of EurEau at the PFAS Global 2024 virtual conference on 13 June.

Gari Villa-Landa (EurEau) moderated a session at the 19th IWA Leading Edge Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies (#iwaLET) between 24-28 June in Essen, Germany.

Oliver Loebel was a panellist at the CIRSEAU workshop on water resilience (19.06) and a workshop with Dutch crisis managers (21.06).


EU news

Water legislation

Nitrates Directive: Commission drafts act to amend Annex III may endanger water resources

The Commission launched a four-week consultation (from mid-April) on a draft act for a Directive to amend Annex III of the Nitrates Directive, which would allow using RENURE (recovered nitrogen from Manure) fertilisers in nitrates vulnerable zones.

We submitted our reaction, expressing our concern regarding the Commission’s draft act and its potential impact (additional pollution with nitrates) on water resources, in particular those used for the abstraction of water intended for human consumption, calling the Commission to:

  1. Ensure that the protection of water bodies remains  central to an amended Nitrates Directive
  2. Carry out an accurate and thorough impact assessment of its proposal
  3. Clearly define a substitution approach when allowing for the use of RENURE fertilisers in the proposal.


Water and agriculture

Soil Monitoring Directive: Council strips text of all ambition

The Council adopted its general approach to the Soil Monitoring Directive on 17 June, stripping the proposed text of any meaningful means to improve soil conditions in the EU. Member States refused to address the gaps in the Commission proposal with regards to restoring and preserving soil health, and removed most provisions to ensure a harmonised framework for monitoring and assessing soil health. The water cycle needs healthy soils to ensure essential ecosystem services such as replenishing and purifying groundwater, as well as mitigating flooding by retaining rainwater where it falls.

Read EurEau’s full reaction here.


Water and the environment

Environmental Quality Standards (WFD/GWD/EQSD revision): Council position

Member States agreed on a negotiating mandate for the revision of water pollutants rules on 19 June, paving the way for trilogues to start once the new European Parliament settles in later this year. Among the most notable changes from the Commission proposal is that the Council endorsed aligning groundwater quality standards for PFAS with drinking water standards, setting an EU-wide list of pesticide metabolites and their relevance, and setting new exemptions to the non-deterioration principle. Member States set a 2039 deadline for most new quality standards to apply, with the possibility to derogate for a further 12 years.

The European Parliament adopted its position on this file in September 2023 and will appoint a new Rapporteur in the coming months, after MEP Milan Brglez was not re-elected. Trilogues are expected to start this autumn.


Bisphenols: Member States endorse ban of Bisphenol A in food contact materials

Member States approved a proposal from the Commission to ban the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials. This means that, after a phase-out period, the chemical will no longer be allowed to be used in these products in the EU. Some limited exemptions will apply.

This ban will apply to the use of BPA in packaging (coatings) and in consumer articles such as reusable plastic drink bottles, water distribution coolers or other kitchenware.

The final adoption is subject to a scrutiny period by the EU Parliament and the Council and could enter into force at the end of 2024.

EurEau welcomes this move. BPA may be found in drinking water resources. Its removal is technically challenging. 

You can read the scientific assessment from the European Food Safety Authority.


Detergents Regulation: Council position lacks ambition

Member States have adopted their negotiating position for the trilogue negotiations with the European Parliament on the Detergents Regulation.

We regret that the Council did not use this revision to bring the Regulation in line with the EU’s zero pollution ambition. While we support the strengthening of biodegradability requirements, the time spans are too long (3-5 years). Furthermore, despite the wide availability of sustainable detergents, the Council failed to suggest more stringent phosphorous and phosphate limits.

The EurEau position is here.


PFAS: ECHA slowly progresses on universal PFAS restriction

The ECHA Risk Assessment and Social and Economic Analysis Committees continued their assessment of the UPFAS restriction proposal at their June meetings. Provisional agreement was found on consumer mixtures, cosmetics, ski wax, metal plating and manufacture of metal products.

The forever chemicals PFAS are a major pollutant of our scarce water resources and are very difficult to remove and destroy. EurEau is therefore calling for a prompt and far-reaching ban of all PFAS uses. We regret that the ECHA processes do not take sufficient account of the benefits of phasing out these substances.

The September ECHA meetings will focus on textiles, upholstery, leather, apparel, carpets, food contact materials and packaging, and petroleum and mining.

The EurEau position on PFAS is here.


Nature Restoration Law: Final hurdle cleared

Member States gave their final approval to the Nature Restoration Law on 17 June after months of deadlock following a trilogue agreement in November 2023, which the Parliament endorsed in February of this year. Following the positive Council vote, the Regulation will be published in the Official Journal.

The law aims at rehabilitating at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all degraded ecosystems by 2050. It establishes obligations and targets on different fields of action, such as farmlands, pollinators, rivers, forests and urban areas, to gradually reverse the environmental damage caused by climate change and unchecked human activity. The text was significantly weakened last year in the Parliament. The result is that now that Member States have more flexibility on how to implement the rules and stating that restoration measures should be prioritised in Natura 2000 protected sites.


Other news

EBC: 2023 benchmarking exercise

The European Benchmarking Cooperation (EBC) has issued its summary of its 2023 benchmarking exercise. In this exercise, 45 water companies from across Europe and beyond benchmarked their drinking water- and wastewater activities, sharing their experiences. The summary highlights the key results of the performance assessment that was carried out in several areas of management and operations, shows trends and describes identified good practices and innovations.
A short version of the report is available on the EBC’s website The full report can be ordered there too.


OECD report: Cost recovery for water services under the Water Framework Directive

The OECD’s paper examines the concept of cost recovery of water services under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), including the different types of costs and cost-recovery mechanisms. It presents the state of play in the implementation of cost recovery in EU Member States and analyses the political, societal and technical issues affecting cost recovery.


Data story on water

DG REGIO has set up a data story on water on their open data platform. It provides complete information on water investments made with cohesion policy. It features interactive charts to explore the planned investments by fund, country and type of action based on Cohesion Open Data. You can find the data story here.



The BOOST-IN project recently launched a call for innovative circular economy solutions in the water sector across Europe. Access the online platform at and fill out the questionnaire before July 18.



19-20 September 2024 - Achieving Zero Pollution of Persistent and Mobile Substances through Substance Grouping and Risk Assessment workshop, Dessau, Germany. EurEau Drinking Water Committee co-chairperson Gesche Gruetzmacher will speak at it. Hosted by UBA.

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