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European Parliament set to improve water quality standards, thanks to S&Ds


11 Sep 2023


Global Europe
Tomorrow, the European Parliament is set to endorse its negotiation position on an S&D-led directive aiming to clean up our water in line with the EU’s zero-pollution goal by 2050, ahead of negotiations with the Council.
Clean water, just as much as clean air*, is vital for the health of people and ecosystems. Yet, the increasing chemical contamination of our environment greatly pollutes our surface and groundwater. This situation is made even more problematic by climate change impacts on water resources.  As a result, the health of people and the planet are both at risk.
Thanks to the S&D’s leadership, we have improved the European Commission’s proposal in many ways. We have accelerated the inclusion of pollutants listed in and monitored under the Commission’s watch lists to cover new and emerging substances that pose significant risks to human health and aquatic ecosystems. These notably include micro-plastics and genes associated with antimicrobial resistance.
We have also directed the Commission to establish thresholds for certain new groups of pollutants that consist of many thousands of different compounds, including so-called ‘forever chemicals’: Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS). In addition, the allowed threshold value for glyphosate in surface water has been considerably reduced, in comparison to Commission’s proposal.
Furthermore, we have prioritised source-control measures over end-of-pipe ones, enhanced access to justice, and requested the implementation of a producer’s responsibility mechanism in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. This mechanism aims to help cover the costs of water quality monitoring programmes.
Milan Brglez, S&D MEP and European Parliament’s Chief Negotiator on the Water Quality Directive, said:
“Updating EU water laws, like the Water Framework Directive and its related directives, is a critical step in fulfilling our commitment to the Zero-Pollution Action Plan.
“Protecting EU water bodies is of utmost importance, considering the increasing challenges of climate change and the pollution from industries and agriculture that threaten our precious freshwater resources.”
Tiemo Wölken, S&D Co-ordinator for environmental policies, added:
“Access to clean water is a fundamental right of all Europeans. With the position adopted this week, the European Parliament stands firm in protection of that right. I can only hope that the member states will also be serious about the protection of EU citizens in the upcoming negotiations.”
Note to editors:
*The report on ‘Ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe’, under the rapporteurship of S&D MEP Javi López, will be debated on Tuesday and voted on Wednesday.


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