Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon
Chapter 23: Europe: international water law and the EU Water Framework Directive
The Sandoz Chemical Spill at the Rhine in 1986 prompted a paradigm shift towards a holistic approach to the sustainable protection and management of transboundary freshwater resources in Europe. Subsequently, the adoption of the UNECE Water Convention in 1992 and of the EU Water Framework Directive in 2000 enabled the development of a multidimensional legal regime which is composed of international water law, the water law of the European Union, and domestic water legislation. Accordingly, qualitative and quantitative aspects regarding surface waters and groundwater are to be managed in an integrated manner to achieve ‘good water status’ of rivers, lakes and aquifers. To this end, ‘international river basin management plans’ as foreseen by the EU Water Framework Directive are developed by international river commissions for transboundary river basins in Europe. The chapter outlines the essential features of EU water law and its formative influence on international water law in Europe.
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