Water Framework Directive

In 2000, the "Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy" or, in short, the EU Water Framework Directive ( WFD) was adopted.

Agriculture in Europe accounts ‘for around 33 % of total water use’ and is the ‘largest source of nutrient pollution in water’, therefore, further development of the sustainability of the CAP and direct regional and local initiatives between water authorities and farmers are urgently needed to alleviate the most important agricultural pressures. (EEA Report No 1/2012 ‘Towards efficient use of water resources in Europe’.)

Several countries in Europe report that groundwater has concentrations of pesticides that exceed the quality standards. Across this European dataset, about 7 % of the groundwater stations reported excessive levels for one or more pesticides. Atrazine and its metabolite Desethylatrazine are the pesticides most frequently detected above the quality standard throughout Europe. Groundwater at risk appears to be located in areas used intensively for agriculture. Even though groundwater and surface water are used as drinking water resources, there is limited information available on pesticide contamination, and a lack of reliable and comparable data.

PAN Europe works on the contamination of European freshwater systems by pesticides, giving a special emphasis on the effects of endocrine disrupting pesticides on aquatic ecosystems.

EU Water Framework Directive is under "Fitness Check" - policy evaluation assessing whether the current regulatory framework for a policy sector is “fit for purpose” as per the Better Regulation Guidelines. PAN Europe believes that taking into account the scope of this fitness check, that will look at “the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and EU added value of the Water Framework Directive”, which represents “the most comprehensive instrument of EU water policy…with the aim of achieving good status of EU waters”, it seems quite reductive and biased to have as purpose “a quantitative assessment of actual costs and benefits including impacts on business” and “an assessment of the potential for regulatory simplification and burden reduction”. Indeed, the scope of this evaluation cannot be just an analysis from an economic and regulatory point of view, but it should include also the social, public health and environmental aspects. You can read here the position of PAN Europe.


© Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.