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5,500+ scientists call on European Commission to defend the EU water law

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, December 06, 2019, 18:00 (GMT + 9)

Scientists and academics concerned by the dire state of European rivers, lakes and wetlands have released a statement calling on the EU to fully implement and enforce its own water law - the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) - in order to halt and reverse the catastrophic decline in freshwater biodiversity.

Photo: .euractiv.com

The statement has been endorsed by twelve scientific bodies representing over 5,000 scientists, and nearly 500 individual scientists specialising in the wide array of species impacted by the WFD - from amphibians to insects, freshwater fishes to birdlife. The scientists include Dr. Jörg Freyhof, Regional Chair of the IUCN/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, and Professor Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Director of Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research. 

The statement was released earlier today alongside an op-ed for Euractiv by Professor Steven Weiss - a freshwater biodiversity expert at the University of Graz and one of the statement’s signatories.

The statement describes the WFD as a critical tool for ensuring that Europe has “healthy and resilient freshwater bodies to support people and nature, today and in the future”, stressing that ‘There cannot be an effective European Green Deal without healthy freshwater ecosystems at the heart of it’. The statement is released as the European Commission is in the final stages of a standard evaluation of the WFD - known as a “fitness-check” - which is designed to assess whether the law is still relevant and fit for purpose. The final conclusions of this evaluation are expected next week. 

Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at  WWF’s European Policy Office, said: 

“EU Member States and business lobbies have been using the fitness-check of the Water Framework Directive to push for weaker environmental standards. The European Commission’s silence has been deafening, and it has continued to allow the impact of the WFD to be gutted by poor implementation and abuse of exemptions. We hope this massive call from thousands of scientists acts as a final wake-up call for the Commission: This law is the right tool to protect Europe’s rivers, any watering down of it would put the European Green Deal in serious jeopardy.”


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