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Permissibility and Limits of Different Levels of Enforcement in the Implementation of the Water Framework Directive

Lena Wertmann - Universität Bonn, Prof. W. Durner

Under the provisional title ‘Permissibility and limits of different levels of enforcement in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive’, I examine the divergent implementation of Directive 2000/60/EC. The Water Framework Directive establishes a plan-based management concept for river basins that is geared towards environmental quality objectives. The Member States of the European Union are thus responsible for the implementation of a Directive that depends to a large extent on its concretization by the administrative authorities in order to achieve enforceability. This makes it possible to provide a sufficiently differentiated regulatory framework to accommodate the divergent water ecological and economic conditions within the entire Union. The multifunctionality of water and the resulting conflicting claims for use make it simply impossible to find one concrete solution that is specified in legal norms.
However, the Member States may have different material objectives, procedures and assessments, which may result in heterogeneous solutions. The vertical distribution of administrative competences between sovereign Member States of the European Union and the states within federal states, which are responsible for concrete action mainly independently of each other, is decisive for divergent implementation. This study investigates whether the divergent implementation of one and the same Directive is permissible, and whether the decentralized management of transboundary water bodies achieves effective water protection. For this purpose, instruments for the establishment of a uniform enforcement at federal and European level shall be pointed out and discussed.

The EU Regulation on Minimum Requirements for Water Reuse – A Contribution to a High Level of Environmental Protection and Integrated Water Management?

Linda Schönfelder - Universität Leipzig, Prof. K. Faßbender

The return of cleaned wastewater into the water cycle represents the European-wide standard today, while the potential of wastewater as a ’resource‘ is only rarely recognized and actually made use of. By now the possibility of water reuse and its legal integration should at least be considered where the consequences of climate change, population growth and increasing food production are noticeable—such as in some southern EU states, which already adopted relevant regulations some time ago. Even Germany, where water reuse is not yet regulated by law, increasingly has to deal with extreme weather conditions and crop failures. With its Regulation 2020/741 of 25 May 2020 on minimum requirements for water reuse, the EU has now adopted the first minimum harmonizing legal act regulating the reuse of treated sewage for (i.a.) agricultural irrigation—inspired by other international regulations. Nevertheless, it is questionable whether the minimum requirements of the Regulation do justice to the high level of environmental protection and contribute to the goals set in Art. 1 of the Regulation. After all the Regulation seems to focus on the monitoring of reused wastewater for negative effects on humans and the environment instead of creating incentives for its wider use. After a legal classification and interpretation of the Regulation’s provisions, their categorization based on environmental law principles and a comparative legal analysis of the implementation and enforcement of the Regulation in the Member States, further need for action may become apparent.