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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
EuropeReducing pollution in EU groundwater and surface waters

Reducing pollution in EU groundwater and surface waters

Parliament adopted its position on reducing groundwater and surface waters pollution and improving EU water quality standards.

MEPs want the EU watch lists – which contain substances posing a significant risk to human health and the environment – to be updated regularly to keep pace with new scientific evidence and new chemicals. They also want a subset of specific PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals”) as well as the PFAS total (parameter which includes the totality of PFAS with a maximum concentration) to be added to the lists for both groundwater and surface water pollutants. Several other substances, including microplastics and antimicrobial resistant microorganisms, should also be added to these lists as soon as suitable monitoring methods identified.

The adopted report also includes stricter standards for several pesticides (including glyphosate and atrazine) and pharmaceuticals.

Producers selling products that contain polluting chemical substances should help finance the monitoring costs, an activity currently financed only by member states.

MEPs adopted the report with 495 votes in favour, 12 against and 124 abstentions.

Quote

After the vote, rapporteur Milan Brglez (S&D, SI) said: “The revision of EU water legislation, including the Water Framework Directive and its two daughter directives, is one of the key policy tools to implement our commitments under the Zero-Pollution Action Plan. Enhanced protection of EU waters is extremely important, especially in the context of the ever more pressing impacts of climate change – combined with industrial and agricultural pollution – on our fresh water resources.”

Next steps

MEPs are ready to start the talks on the final shape of the legislation, once Council agrees on its position.

Background

In line with the European Green Deal’s zero pollution ambition, the Commission tabled in October 2022 a proposal to revise the lists of surface water and groundwater pollutants that need to be monitored and controlled to protect the EU’s freshwater bodies. The new legislation updates the Water Framework Directive, the Groundwater Directive and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive (Surface Water Directive).

In adopting this report, Parliament is responding to citizens’ expectations to protect and restore ecosystems and eliminate pollution, as expressed in proposals 2(4) and 2(7) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

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