Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, has today (17 April, 2013) welcomed the agreement on amendments to the Priority Substances in Water Directive, heralding it as an important development in the bid to improve water quality in Europe.
The Directive controls emissions, losses and discharges of so-called ‘priority substances’ to water by establishing environmental quality standards (EQSs) for them in water and requiring monitoring programmes. The substances concerned include chemicals, certain metals, biocides, plant protection products and dioxins. For substances classified as priority hazardous substances, the legislation requires their use to be phased out.
Minister Hogan - “I know that Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission have worked hard to reach agreement on this important file and it is a good result for water quality in Europe.”
Agreement was reached with the European Parliament over the past week on proposals to monitor and control additional substances posing risk to the aquatic environment. The proposals also include more stringent standards for some of the existing 33 substances covered by the legislation. The main benefits of the agreement will be:
- the inclusion of 12 new substances in the list of priority substances impacting on water quality and requiring Member States to achieve specified EQSs in respect of these substances;
- the inclusion of stricter standards for 7 of the existing substances;
- establishment of a ‘watch list’ mechanism to monitor and collect information on emerging pollutants from a network of monitoring sites across Europe to assess their suitability for future inclusion in the priority substances list;
- the inclusion of 3 pharmaceuticals of concern (i.e. Diclofenac, 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol and 17 beta-estradiol) on the first watch list.
The Irish Presidency secured approval on a compromise package at the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) meeting today. This followed close to three months of intensive negotiations under the Irish EU Presidency.
In welcoming the agreement, Minister Hogan said:
“I know that Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission have worked hard to reach agreement on this important file and it is a good result for water quality in Europe.”
The Minister also paid tribute to the work undertaken by the two previous Presidencies (Denmark and Cyprus) before the Irish Presidency took on the responsibility of securing agreement.