Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive

Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most comprehensive instrument of EU water
policy. Its main objective is to protect and enhance freshwater resources with the aim of
achieving good status of EU waters by 2015. The main tools to implement the Directive are the
River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) and the Programmes of Measures which are made in 6
year cycles.
The RBMP is a comprehensive document which should describe the actions envisaged to
implement the WFD. The RBMPs cover many aspects of water management and identify all
actions and measures to be taken within the River Basin District in order to deliver the
objectives of the WFD, including non-deterioration of water status and the achievement of
good status in all water bodies, unless an exemption is applied.
The Commission has so far published four implementation reports describing progress made in
implementing the WFD. The Commission is currently assessing the second River Basin
Management Plans and the first Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMP), covering the period
2009-2015 and will publish its implementation report in the first semester of 2018.

The foreseen fitness check evaluates the WFD as foreseen in Articles 19(2) of this Directive and
will cover also two Directives directly linked to the WFD: the Groundwater Directive
(2006/118/EC) and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive (2008/105/EC), the so-called
"daughter-directives" of the WFD. It will also include the Floods Directive (FD, 2007/60/EC),
which has been the catalyst for introducing a risk management approach in the dealings of
Member States with significant floods across the EU.
The fitness Check will look at the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and EU added
value of the Water Framework Directive
(and its 'daughters') and the Floods Directive. This will
include an assessment of the potential for regulatory simplification and burden reduction. A
quantitative assessment of actual costs and benefits including impacts on business will be
carried out in as far as possible. The fitness check may identify areas where simplifications or
improvements to the legislation or its implementation could be possible and therefore may
serve as the basis for further action by the European Commission.
The fitness check will cover the performance of these key directives in all Member States and
over the whole lifespan of the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive to date,
meaning the two cycles of RBMPs and Programmes of Measures and the first cycle of FRMPs.
The Commission will publish in early 2018 implementation reports on these management
plans, which will be the starting point of this fitness check
. These implementation reports will
show the current status in European water bodies and the actions taken by Member States to
achieve those objectives. They will point out the main shortcomings identified in the WFD and
FD implementation, but will also highlight the progress made in the different areas since the
first cycle of RBMPs. They will also contribute to understand the developments that the
Directives have brought about to contribute to a sound water management in Member States
and at EU level.

The consultation of citizens and stakeholders will provide important information for this fitness
There are many relevant stakeholders for this consultation, as water is essential for many
economic activities and for the environment, e.g. the competent authorities in Member States
(i.e. all authorities in charge of water related policies, including environment, agriculture,
transport, energy, etc.), the water related industry (economic and innovation sectors), as well
as any interested non-professional organised entity (local or interest oriented), and
environmental NGOs. Finally, the general public, as individual citizens are also an important
stakeholder group for this consultation.
Consultation activities will be carried out by both the Commission services and the contractor
supporting the evaluation
. They will be done also within the existing Common Implementation
Strategy, which provides for a well-established framework for the consultation with Member
States competent authorities and main stakeholders, including representatives from the
economic sector and NGOs.
The following consultation activities are foreseen (non-exhaustive list):

  • • An online public consultation available in all EU official languages, to be launched in the first
  • semester of 2018 for both the WFD and Floods Directive.
  • • A European Water Conference in the third quarter of 2018
  • • A range of other meetings

More information at: