English summary European Water Framework Directive

Water does not stick to national boundaries. This is why EU member states have agreed to the European Water Framework Directive (EWFD). The goal of this directive is to ensure that the quality of surface water and groundwater in Europe meets high standards (sound ecological status) by the year 2015.

The EWFD is based on a river basin district approach to make sure that neighbouring member states assume joint responsibility for managing the rivers and other bodies of water they share. To meet the 2015 deadline, water authorities in each river basin district in Europe must have agreed on a coherent programme of measures by 2009. Where a river basin district includes more than one member state, a trans-boundary management plan must be drawn up. The Netherlands is involved in management plans for four trans-boundary river basin districts: Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt and Ems.


From the European level...

The implementation of the EWFD starts on a European level. The European Water Directors provide an informal structure in which guidelines are drafted for the further implementation of the directive. Moreover, the European Union is preparing further measures, including a directive on priority substances, to address several aspects of the EWFD.

To the national...

In the Netherlands, the implementation of the EWFD is managed by the national government. Issues that need to be addressed on a national level include basic monitoring principles, and the criteria for denominating the various types of water bodies. All these issues are coordinated by the ministry responsible for water management. As far as possible, however, decisions are made in close cooperation with other relevant ministries, provinces, water boards and municipalities.

To the regional...

A national basin area coordinator has been appointed for coordinating the drafting of the basin area management plans. For each basin area, the regional directorate of the water management ministry, provinces, water boards and municipalities have partial responsibility for water issues and must closely cooperate in drawing up the management plans as well as executing the programme of measures contained in these plans.

And across the border...

To make sure that goals and measures fit in with the overall picture for the river basin involved, those responsible consult closely with the international river commissions for Meuse, Scheldt and Ems. The EWFD is also a prominent issue in the international discussions between Rhine Water Directors.

Public participation

Public involvement is an important part of the EWFD. The Dutch public will be kept up-to-date and will have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. Over the next few years, each member of the public and organisation will have three chances to voice their opinion. In 2006, this will relate to the working programme and time schedule. In 2007, this will concern the most important issues that have to be addressed in the basin management plans, and in 2008 the consultation will involve the concept basin management plans.

In addition to the public, NGOs can be involved with the implementation process of the EWFD on both a national and a regional level. Regionally, organisations are to be given the chance to participate in sounding board groups, with a group in each basin district. On a national level, organisations are participating in a national platform that organises theme discussions on the EWFD. Moreover, these organisations can also participate in different working groups and contribute with their specific expertise in certain areas.


Most documents of the European Guidances of the Water Frame Directive. You have to choose for public library.

Brochure 'Delta Dilemmas (pdf, 715 kB) '

Implementing the European Water Framework Directive in the Netherlands.

Brochure 'No frontiersfor the Rhine'

This brochure gives an overview of the most important conclusions from the international article 5-reports about the international river basin Rhine (1.8 MB).

WFD project factsheets

The WFD Project Fact sheets on pollutants aims to provide a basis for the elaboration of the policy line for dealing with pollutants. Fact sheets have been compiled for a total number of 174 potentially significant pollutants. In this report, overviews have been distilled from the fact sheets regarding heavy metals/metalloids, pesticides and other organic micropollutants. A distinction is made between priority hazardous substances, priority substances and other substances. (481.3 KB)

MEP/GEP Guidelines in a nutshell (pdf, 1.2 MB)

Scope for local interpretation on ecological objectives for the Water Framework Directive

Summary River Basin Management Plans 2016-2021 (pdf, 2.2 MB)