Implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)


The Danube Commission, Budapest – 11 April 2019

The Danube Commission (DC) hosted a one-day regional workshop “Implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) on the Danube river regarding the navigation sector and river works”. The workshop was organized by the Secretariat of the Danube Commission and the JASPERS team in line with activities envisaged by the GRANT AGREEMENT between the Danube Commission and EC-DG MOVE, focus on implementation of Pillar 3, Activity 3.1, with the aim of supporting activities to the “Joint Statement” process.
In order to determine whether Article 4(7) WFD tests need to be applied, a checklist using a four-step approach for assessing whether projects could lead to deterioration or compromise the achievement of the WFD objectives has been developed by JASPERS. The checklist tool is currently being tested on concrete cases, with a view to widen its application on project preparation assistance and future training activities. This tool represents good practice to discuss project ideas and involve all interested stakeholders to the permitting procedures as early as possible in order to avoid unnecessary investments and burden on authorities as well as later conflicts.
The workshop addressed in detail the topic above with the active involvement of about 40 participants. The DC is not a promotor of the tool, but it hopes that the broad use of the checklist tool could greatly facilitate and simplify procedures approach when planning infrastructural projects in the transport sector, especially navigation.

Summary of comments / interventions:
– Article 4.7 of the WFD allows new projects to go ahead provided that it is applicable and that the project passes all the required tests (including the ones set in articles 4.8 and 4.9).
– The recently published CIS Guidance document No 36 provides that it can guide experts and stakeholders in the implementation of article 4.7 of the WFD.
– The JASPERS checklist tool (also mentioned as a good practice example in the CIS document No 36) is publicly available for use and feedback. It is a support tool for project developers and decision makers.

Some key takeaways from the participants included:
– What needs to be assessed is not the size of the project but the size of the effect.
– The delineation of water bodies is very important; if not done properly, assessing the significance of an effect can be challenging.
– There is no benchmark numerical rule when it comes to what constitutes a reasonable cost for mitigation measures.
– Proposed mitigation measures need to be proven.
– Establishing an overriding Public Interest is more than a declaratory statement.