'Industry lobbies are mounting a push to roll back EU clean water regulations, even though less than half of the continent’s rivers, wetlands and lakes are in a healthy state.
The lobby offensive is aimed at weakening the bloc’s floods and water framework directives, which require all states to ensure their waterways are in “good ecological condition” by 2027. Conservation groups say the proposed changes could sound a death knell for several endangered aquatic species.
The campaign by mining, agriculture, hydropower and chemical lobbyists has been backed by five EU states: Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Finland.
Andreas Baumüller, the head of natural resources at WWF’s European policy office, said: “Rivers, lakes and wetlands are our life support systems but they are being annihilated under our very eyes. We have the legal tool to stop this – the EU water law – but member states must actively stand up to the sectors that pollute and destroy the most.”
A new study by several environmental groups says that proposals for an EU “fitness check” of water rules could allow harmful projects, weaken the “polluter pays” principle and lower the bar for what counts as a “good” ecological condition.
A “one out, all out” rule obliging holistic waterway standards for biodiversity, flow and pollutants is being particularly challenged.
In position papers seen by the Guardian, the Swedish mining company SveMin says the rule “cannot prevail” because of its “severe negative impact on investments”. The document calls for more flexible exemptions and a new definition of a good ecological water state.'
Read more: EU clean water laws under attack from industry lobbyists
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