New EU environmental laws take effect

Entry into force for water framework directive, plus laws on waste incineration, port waste facilities

The EU's large canon of environmental legislation has grown further, with publication of several new directives in the Official Journal marking their entry into force.

Foremost is the blockbuster water framework directive (2000/60) on 22 December. EU member states must now transpose the law into national legislation by 22 December 2003, by which time they must have identified competent authorities responsible for meeting environmental objectives for each river basin. Each river basin district will have to prepare a river basin management plan, and all plans must be reviewed by December 2015.

The directive's overarching objective of achieving good status for all surface and groundwater will have to be achieved by December 2015. Countries will have to "take account" of the principle of recovery of costs of water services so that by 2010 there are "adequate" incentives for efficient resource use. All polluting discharges must be controlled under a combined approach of best available techniques and emission limit values, as well as best environmental practices for diffuse pollution, by December 2012.

As the water framework directive is implemented a swathe of existing EU water legislation will be replaced. A batch to be repealed in December 2007 includes directive 75/440 on quality of surface water for use as drinking water. A second group due for repeal in December 2013 includes directive 76/464 on dangerous substances in water and directives 78/659 on freshwater quality for fish life and 79/923 on the quality of shellfish waters.

Two further environmental directives entered into force on 28 December: directive 2000/76 on waste incineration and a directive on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues (2000/59).

In addition, a decision setting up an EU framework for cooperation in the field of accidental or deliberate marine pollution (2850/2000) also took effect on 28 December, and a regulation establishing a permit system for heavy goods vehicles of up to 40 tonnes to travel in Switzerland from 1 January (2888/2000) entered into force on 30 December.

Follow Up:
See full texts of the water framework directive, the waste incineration directive, the port reception facilities directive, as well as for the decision on cooperation over marine pollution, and the regulation on lorries travelling in Switzerland.

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