375,000+ citizens tell the European Commission “Hands off our water law!”

375,386 people have called on the European Commission to defend Europe’s strong water law, making the EU’s public consultation on the legislation one of the largest ever in the history of the European Union.

This law is critical to ensure that Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands are protected and brought back to good health. As our Head of Science and Environmental Policy, Dr Janina Gray, explains:

"The Water Framework Directive gives a basic protection for our rivers and waterlife, and has resulted over the years in millions of pounds of investment, mainly from water companies.  Any weakening of the WFD standards would have catastrophic implications for our waterways and wild fish.

Over 375,000 people have spoken, sending a clear message that the WFD’ standards must remain as they are. This is of paramount importance in driving Government commitment to the protection of our rivers, streams and wild fish following Brexit."

Find out more: Protect Water

The NGO-led #ProtectWater campaign inspired citizens across Europe and beyond to take a stand for Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the strong law which protects them, the EU Water Framework Directive, during the European Commission’s ongoing fitness-check.

“375,386 citizens have spoken up for Europe’s precious rivers, lakes and wetlands, and against their ongoing destruction. They have told their governments loud and clear not to undermine the EU water law - decision-makers must now listen up and take these voices seriously”

said Ester Asin, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office,

“With 60% of Europe’s waters in a critical state, the need for action from Member States is urgent. They were meant to put a stop to this destruction when they signed up to the Water Framework Directive in 2000, but, instead, have spent the best part of two decades brazenly side-stepping their commitments and not implementing it. We urge them to own up to their inaction today and, instead of pushing for this law to be changed, take citizens' views on board.”

The #ProtectWater campaign was led by WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Anglers Alliance, the European Rivers Network and Wetlands International - who together form the Living Rivers Europe Coalition.

It facilitated citizens’ participation in the European Commission’s public consultation on the Water Framework Directive (the only opportunity for the general public to have its say during the EU fitness-check) to express their clear opposition to changing the legislation. It was launched in October 2018 and went on to be supported by more than 130 civil society organisations, including national partners and offices of Greenpeace, BirdLife and Friends of the Earth, as well as unions.

The EU’s official analysis of the public consultation, which closed on 11 March, is likely to be published in the autumn of 2019, with the final decision on the future of the legislation expected by the first half of 2020.

As Living Rivers Europe, we will be there every step of the way to ensure that the Water Framework Directive remains intact, and will continue to push for this visionary legislation to be fully implemented by Member States and enforced by the European Commission so that it that the vast majority of Europe’s waters are returned to good health by 2027 (at the absolute latest).