Regional Environmental Law

Regional Environmental Law

Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren

The core focus of this timely volume is to ascertain how regional environmental law may contribute to the pursuit of global sustainable development. Leading scholars critically analyze the ways in which states may pool sovereignty to find solutions to environmental problems, presenting a comparative legal analysis of the manner in which the AU, EU, OAS and ASEAN deal with the issues of climate change, human rights and the environment.

Chapter 14: A comparative analysis of the legal frameworks that govern Europe’s transboundary waters

Owen McIntyre

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, comparative law, environmental law, law and development


Transboundary waters are of considerable importance in the European region and their sustainable management requires a high degree of inter-State cooperation. There are a total of 69 international river basins in the region, of which 28 lie solely within the borders of the EU, while a further 29 are shared between EU and non-EU States. To illustrate the range and complexity of these shared basins, the Danube basin is shared by 17 States and covers a total area of 790,100 km², while 39 basins are shared between only two States. In addition, there are around 69 aquifers throughout Europe, many of which are inevitably transboundary. The European region has a very long and rich legacy of inter-State cooperation over transboundary waters, with many of the earliest treaties on issues such as riverine navigation, fisheries and irrigation, as well as a history of legal disputes ending in judicial or arbitral settlement. It is not surprising, therefore, that the utilisation and environmental protection of Europe’s transboundary water resources are governed by a complex web of legal frameworks working at a range of levels of administration – international and transnational, European Union and national. Neither should one be surprised that European practice in relation to transboundary water management makes a hugely significant contribution to the development and normativisation of key principles of good water governance essential for the sustainable management of shared water resources.

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