Politics & Laws

EU Groundwater Directive

This directive aims to protect groundwater from pollution and quality deterioration. It contains clear and explicit provisions on the assessment of good status, the identification and, where necessary, reversal of significantly and persistently growing n

egative trends, as well as standards to prevent and/or restrict the discharge of dangerous substances and pollutants into groundwater.

The Council and the Parliament reached an agreement on these detailed contents in a meeting of the Conciliation Committee on 17th October 2006. The compromise yet still requires official confirmation by the Council and by the Parliament. This is expected to happen before the end of the year, so that the directive will take effect within the first months of next year. EU member states are required to adopt the new law into their national legislations within a two-year period.

Further EU Nitrates Directive derogations

The EU Nitrates Directive restricts the application of livestock manure to land to 170 kg of nitrogen/ha/year. Derogations may be granted in certain cases, such as for crops with a high nitrogen demand and prolonged periods of growth. The EU Commission has so far granted such derogations to Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria upon a thorough review of the fulfilment of eligibility criteria and assessment of the environmental impacts to be expected, and by imposing certain stringent requirements.

Such requirements include: restriction of derogation to cattle farms with a high proportion of grassland, on-site inspections, soil sampling, obligation to report annually to the Commission, etc. Derogations shall only be granted on condition that the objectives of the Nitrates Directive are closely observed and a consistent and legally flawless action programme is submitted. On 13th November, a clear majority of member states approved of granting a derogation to Germany, Ireland and Belgium. The EU Commission is expected to come up with a formal decision on this matter by the end of 2006.
(Source: aqua press Int. 4/2006, Dr. Martin Wimmer)

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water
(Unit VII 2, Int. Water Policy)
DI Karl Schwaiger

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