EC Blueprint for water policy & Fitness Check
The European Commission is working on the Blueprint, which will be published on 26-27 November 2012 under Cypriot Presidency. The Fitness Check is part of the Blue Print. The 2012 Blueprint will be the EU policy response to challenges on water resources. It will aim to ensure good quality water in sufficient quantities for all legitimate uses. It will be based on an evaluation of the implementation and achievements of the current EU water policy, in particular the Fitness Check of EU water policy in the framework of the Commission Smart Regulation approach.
The purpose is to identify excessive burdens, overlaps, gaps, inconsistencies and/or obsolete measures which may have appeared over time. Pilot exercises were started in 2010 in four areas: environment, transport, employment and social policy, and industrial policy. In the area of environment, the protection of EU freshwater resources has been selected as the pilot area.
The European Union of Water Management Associations (EUWMA) welcomes the initiative to develop a Fitness Check as a building block of the Blueprint to safeguard European Water Resources. EUWMA wants to express its opinion on the initiative in this paper and wants to offer its co-operation with the Commission in developing and executing the project in order to achieve efficient and effective results. EUWMA realizes the important benefits EU water legislation has brought so far and supports the integration of the RBMP with the plans to cope with the issues coming from droughts and floods. Focusing on the objectives by giving more attention to the proper execution of present legislation has a higher priority for EUWMA than creating additional legislation. EUWMA sees the Blueprint initiative as an important initiative to make sure that legislation can be further improved, so that the shared objectives can be made in the most efficient and effective manner. This document focuses on perceived challenges, regardless of the many benefits.
- The general objectives of EU water policy are supported by EUWMA and allow for important and necessary improvement of the situation of Europe’s waters. Objectives, which are mostly based on technical principles, however, are often difficult to reach as a result of a lack of proper implementation of legislation, caused by economic or political principles. EUWMA argues that this calls for a stronger role of the European Commission in monitoring and enforcement of implementation of water policy in EU member states. If not, a possible outcome could be that a more pragmatic approach may be chosen by actors in the water sector to deal with challenges, not reflecting the polluter pays principle and the prevention of pollution at source. It is important to make clear to legislators and the public the important advantages water policy has for the community, the environment and biodiversity in order to have a positive outcome of the cost/benefit analysis discussion of the recommended measures.
- From the water system perspective, EUWMA suggests that it would have been appropriate to base the Blueprint on the challenges for water quality and water quantity, with the objective of achieving a sustainable use of water resources in the EU. To be effective, the evaluation of EU Water Policy and development of policy recommendation of the Blueprint should be a continuous process instead of a one-off exercise.