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Parliamentary questions
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15 May 2019
Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-001337/2019

According to Article 4(4) of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)(1) the deadlines to protect, enhance and restore all water bodies can be extended to a maximum of two further updates of the river basin management plan(2), while longer extensions are only possible in cases where natural conditions prevent achieving environmental objectives.

As pointed out by the Honourable Member, the Commission published in February 2019 the latest WFD implementation report(3) underpinned by assessments per Member State. The assessment for Spain(4) includes specific recommendations regarding the establishment and implementation of ecological flows.

Drought management plans are supplementary plans that Member States can develop, in line with Article 13(5) of the WFD. The updated Spanish drought management plans consider combined indicators, which could lead to a more frequent use of exemptions for complying with environmental objectives due to prolonged droughts, as set in Article 4(6).

Member States are responsible to ensure the coherence among supplementary measures and comply with the obligations set by the WFD. The primary responsibility for correctly implementing EC law and ensuring coherence among supplementary plans and measures lies with the Member States competent authorities, in that specific case with the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.

In line with the policy approach outlined in the communication ‘EC law: Better results through better application’(5), the Commission gives priority to issues indicating, i.a, a systemic failure to comply with the EC law. Should the evidence gathered point to a systemic breach of EC law, the Commission will consider the most appropriate course of action in light of the criteria set out in this communication.

(1)Directive 2000/60/EC: OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p.1
(2)i.e. 2027
(5)2017/C 18/02, OJ C 18, 19.1.2017, p. 10‐20.

Last updated: 16 May 2019Legal notice