Directive 2000/60 / EC (Water Framework Directive)

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Directive 2000/60 / EC

Title: Directive 2000/60 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 23, 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy
(not official)
Water Framework Directive
Scope: EEA
Legal matter: Environmental law
Basis: EGV , in particular Art. 175 Para. 1
Procedure overview: European Commission
European Parliament
To be used from: December 22, 2000
To be
implemented in national law by:
December 22, 2003
Implemented by: Implementation overview
Reference: OJ L 327 of 22.12.2000, pp. 1-73
Full text Consolidated version (not official)
basic version
The regulation must have been implemented in national law.
Please note the information on the current version of legal acts of the European Union !

The European Water Framework Directive ( WFD ) is a European directive that the legal framework for water - policy of the European Union to unify (EU) and aims, their respective policies more conducive to sustainable and environmentally sound water use align.

Official name

Directive 2000/60 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 23, 2000 creating a framework for Community measures in the field of water policy.

Natural conditions are very different within the European Union. The water management problems vary widely within Europe. For this reason, the guideline is limited to setting quality goals and specifying methods of how to achieve them and how to maintain good water quality.

The guideline is characterized by four elements that mean changes and in some cases improvements compared to the previous German water policy and have therefore triggered the need for adjustment.


“All EU member states are obliged to bring all water bodies to a“ good ecological ”and“ good chemical status ”by 2015 and, in exceptional cases, by 2027. A “good quantitative” and “good chemical status” can be achieved for groundwater. ”As of 2018, none of the 16 German federal states met the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. In particular, the nitrates from factory farming and the mercury pollution from coal-fired power generation cause problems for the authorities.

The objectives of the EU WFD are:

  • When groundwater provide for "a good qualitative and quantitative status".

Improvement requirement

  • The creation of “good status” or “good potential” for surface waters .

No deterioration

"Good condition"

"Waters are in good condition when their communities , their structure, the chemical constituents of surface waters or the chemical constituents and their quantity in groundwater are only slightly influenced by humans."


A “good chemical and quantitative condition” should be achieved for groundwater : The amount of groundwater is determined on the basis of geological data. According to the law, the respective water abstraction may only amount to part of the annually newly formed groundwater. "A" good quantitative status "exists when the mean annual water withdrawal does not exceed the available resources in the long term."

When analyzing the “chemical quality of the groundwater”, characteristic “ key parameters” such as the content of nutrients and other key figures such as any concentrations of heavy metals or pesticides are measured. A "good chemical status" is given "if the concentration of certain pollutants corresponds to the applicable quality standards and the anthropogenic material pollution does not lead to significant damage to surface waters or wetlands ."

Surface water

The good status of surface waters consists of at least good ecological and good chemical status. “Ecological status” means the water quality in relation to the structure and functionality of aquatic ecosystems . The ecological condition is assessed under examination

  • the composition and quality of the community in the water,
  • of the nationally relevant chemical pollutants as well as supplementary
  • the physico-chemical components such as nutrient availability, oxygen balance, temperature, salinity and

hydromorphological properties such as water volume, current, depth and nature of the water bed . Due to the different properties of the waters, different small animals, algae, aquatic plants and fish live there. The composition of the community of these biological quality elements reflects the quality of the waters.


The status of surface waters is assessed in five stages:

  1. "very good"
  2. "Well"
  3. "moderate"
  4. "unsatisfactory"
  5. "bad"

“The water ecology is type-specific and significantly shaped by the interplay of biological, chemical and hydromorphological components. According to the Water Framework Directive, these components must also be used to assess the ecological status. The assessment is based on the deviation of the water from the natural, largely untouched condition (reference condition) ”.

The classification as "very good" occurs when biological, chemical and morphological conditions show no or only very little disturbance by humans and the condition of the surface waters is rated as "near-natural". The classification depends on the degree of deviation from the "reference status": a "good status" deviates slightly from this, a "moderate" more, etc.

To define chemical status, the EU has set environmental quality standards for 33 "priority" and eight previously controlled substances. These are classified as "questionable" throughout the EU.

Compliance with the specifications is measured in the water itself as well as in the water deposits or sediments or the water flora and fauna . A “good chemical status” is given if no pollutant occurs in a higher concentration than allowed in the environmental quality standards.

In order to ensure the Europe-wide comparability of the biological assessment systems used, the assessment procedure was compared between the member states as part of an "intercalibration".

"Artificial" waters

In addition to naturally occurring bodies of water, there are also “artificial” or “significantly modified” bodies of water such as canals or rivers and streams, the natural structure of which has been greatly changed and which are still used intensively today. B. for land drainage , shipping or drinking water production . They have a special status because the strong interventions and changes do not allow a return to a “good” state without human activities and uses having to be disproportionately restricted. The aim here is to achieve “good ecological potential”.

The EU takes into account here that it is not possible to dispense with any use of water and that the habitats naturally occurring in this context can only be partially restored.

Spatial alignment with river basin districts

The EU states have to define “uniform and significant sections” of a body of water. Such water bodies are, for example, sections of a river, a lake or a delimited volume of groundwater within one or more groundwater aquifers (or aquifers ). The classification is based on the typification and the water condition. In addition, water bodies should support the targeted management of water bodies.

The spatial alignment of the EU WFD to river basin districts is based on the fact that pollution of surface waters exceeds administrative boundaries, i.e. effective water management must also be comprehensive. The orientation of the water policy and the administrations to these river basin districts was first practiced in Great Britain and France and gave the impetus for the European regulation. Since the catchment areas of many of the major European rivers such as the Meuse , Rhine , Elbe , Oder , or Danube go beyond national borders , a European regulation was the obvious choice. The same applies to the groundwater conditions, which are also independent of political borders.

Integrated approach

The chemical, biological and ecological quality of water is subject to a multitude of different influences. In order to evaluate these and act accordingly, a broad data basis is required, for the provision or updating of which the guideline prescribes uniform and therefore comparable criteria. With regard to regulation, Art. 10 of the guideline expressly stipulates that the loads from “point sources” (especially industrial discharges and those from sewage treatment plants ) and “diffuse” sources (especially agricultural inputs) are considered together, which is a change compared to up to German law applicable at the time.

Cost recovery principle

The WFD stipulates that the water supply must be designed to "cover costs" by 2010: So far, the water supply outside the Federal Republic of Germany has been e.g. T., in many places by subsidies , especially insofar as it cheapens artificial lawn is organized. In addition, for economic policy reasons, water is sold at a reduced price to some industries with high operational water requirements. The result is likely to be increases in water prices, the implementation of which will be difficult because the water prices - via the wastewater charges - have already risen above average in recent years due to the need to retrofit sewage treatment plants.

Technical standard of wastewater treatment

According to the Water Framework Directive, wastewater treatment must comply with the best available technologies. This term comes from British law and is therefore often abbreviated to BAT (for best available technique). This means the respective level of development of progressive processes, whereby the cost-benefit ratio is expressly taken into account.

Until 2002, the generally recognized rules of technology formed the legal requirement for the technical standard of wastewater treatment in Germany (Section 7a of the Water Management Act ). In order to adapt to the higher requirements of the Water Framework Directive, the generally recognized rules of technology were replaced by the state of the art in 2002 (see Section 7a WHG old version). In the version of the WHG that has been in effect since March 1, 2010, § 3 No. 11 and § 57 regulate accordingly.

Implementation in national law


The German Water Management Act (WHG) - originally a federal framework law - was adapted to the requirements of the directive in 2002. The water law of the federal states was also adapted as a result.

The Water Resources Act of July 31, 2009, which came into force on March 1, 2010, was created in the competing legislation and meets the requirements.


Federal waterways are operated, maintained and expanded by the federal government. The federal states are responsible for water management and the implementation of the framework directive. Since the more ecological remodeling of the waters can cause high costs, the question arises of who has to pay for them (example: In order to achieve the ecological continuity of a watercourse as a quality criterion, it may be necessary to build a fish ladder, e.g. the Weser weir the Weser near Bremen , or the barrage of the Elbe near Geesthacht ). As with any federal-state mixed financing (see federalism reform ) there is a risk or temptation (“ moral hazard ”) that both actors do nothing or do too little in the hope that the other will “fix it”.


In Article 14, the WFD prescribes information and consultation of the public . The active participation of interested parties (“ stakeholders ”) is to be encouraged.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. WWF-Report: Ranking of federal states on water quality and implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive / Conference of Environment Ministers called for action. In: . November 5, 2018, accessed November 5, 2018 .
  2. a b c d e f g Environmental goals - the good condition for our waters, Retrieved April 4, 2018 .
  3. a b Sibylle Wilke: Ecological condition of the flowing waters . In: Federal Environment Agency . October 18, 2013 ( [accessed April 4, 2018]).
  4. Electronic Resource: Antje Bruns: Governance in the Coastal Region: European Environmental Policy in Transition; the implementation of the integrated coastal zone management and the water framework directive on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein . ( [accessed April 4, 2018]).