Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Seventh Report

FOREWORD—What this Report is about

The European Union adopted ambitious new legislation in 2000 designed to protect and restore clean water in sufficient quantity across Europe. Making it work, however, creates many challenges for all those involved, including not only public authorities but many other organisations whose duties and activities are linked to water or nearby land.

Putting the Water Framework Directive into practice also requires some of its aspirations to be quantified in the form of binding standards. The importance of making sure that these standards are set at an appropriate level led us to take evidence from the UK Government and from the Environment Agency.

Implementation seems to be proceeding relatively well throughout the United Kingdom, although it is still very early days. If its success so far is to continue, partnership is key. Local authorities, planners, government and farmers, to name but a few, must work together.

In some instances, it may prove disproportionately costly or technically impractical to achieve in the short term the ambitious targets that are demanded. That is why some flexibility is built into the Water Framework Directive, but it is crucial that this flexibility is not abused.

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