In Europe and throughout the world, the protection and management of freshwater resources is a vital task for the future. Pollution from agriculture, industry and urban areas continues to contaminate water courses, threatening human health and the environment. Dams, solid embankments and other land use changes also harm the ecosystems of rivers, lakes and streams, and coastal and inland wetlands have been filled in. The EU Water Framework Directive is an innovative piece of legislation to address these problems, together with other EU directives (on drinking water, bathing water, wastewater treatment plants and others) – however, their full implementation across the EU has not yet been achieved. Moreover, climate change brings new threats: higher risks of flooding in northern Europe especially; and projections that water scarcity and drought will increase in southern Europe. Better water management is thus a key challenge for the EU, for Europe’s neighbours in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and indeed for countries around the world.
Milieu has supported the European Commission in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the EU, bringing our legal and policy expertise to the analysis of ongoing problems and of Member State implementation. We have reviewed river basin management plans, prepared overviews of EU legislation for a broad public, and also analysed specific technical issues: for example, we reviewed the list of priority substances for controlling pollution levels in Europe’s waters.
We have also used our extensive experience on water legislation and policy to advise EU Candidate Countries as well as Europe’s neighbours in Eastern Europe on water management. Milieu has helped these countries to draft water legislation and develop financing strategies for wastewater infrastructure. We have assisted both EU Member States and neighbouring countries in the implementation of the Danube River Protection Convention by identifying barriers to inter-ministerial co-operation and proposing new mechanisms.
Projects Milieu has worked on in the area of water management include:
Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Waters – Lot 2 (Assessment of policy options for the Blueprint), DG Environment, 2011-2012: The Blueprint, to be launched in 2012, will map out the EU’s next phase in water policy: it is expected to identify mechanisms to strengthen the implementation of water legislation and also to address the growing threat of water scarcity and drought. Milieu is a partner in the consortium led by IEEP. We are contributing throughout the project, which supports DG Environment in preparing the policy options for the Blueprint and undertaking their impact assessment.
Comparative study of pressures and measures in the major river basin management plans in the EU, DG Environment, 2011-2012: Milieu is a partner in the consortium for this contract, led by WRc. The project will undertake a comparative review of the first round of river-basin management plans, collecting data to develop a Europe-wide assessment of key aspects ranging from governance (including enforcement and inspection systems) to methodologies used for river basins analysis to the integration of policies in related sectors through the river-basin plans.
Technical support in relation to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), DG Environment, 2003-2011: Milieu has undertaken a broad range of work under this contract as a partner in the consortium led by WRc. We have participated in the review of the institutional set-up, monitoring programmes, and river basin management plans used by Member States to implement the Directive. We have analysed the priority substances to be controlled for water protection. Milieu has also prepared a series of water notes to explain the Directive and other EU water legislation to an interested public.
Water governance in the Western EECCA countries, EuropeAid, 2008-2010: As part of the consortium led by Mott MacDonald, Milieu provided the legal expertise for this technical assistance project aimed at building capacity for water management in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Through our work and previous projects such as the previous EuropeAid Environmental Collaboration for the Black Sea project, we supported several countries in drafting new water legislation in line with the Water Framework Directive and other sectoral Directive. These projects also included support to governments in developing strategies for convergence with EU water-related legislation.
Human Rights Based Approach to Water, UNDP Bratislava, 2007-2008: Milieu also developed the conceptual framework and strategic approach for a new regional programme on water governance and human rights aimed at supporting countries and UNDP country offices in the Eastern Europe and CIS countries to develop and implement human rights based approach (pilot) projects on water & sanitation planning, as well as concrete measures to improve access to water and sanitation services (more information).