Research Handbook on International Water Law
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Research Handbook on International Water Law

Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon

The Research Handbook on International Water Law surveys the field of the law of shared freshwater resources. In some thirty chapters, it covers subjects ranging from the general principles operative in the field and international groundwater law to the human right to water and whether international water law is prepared to cope with climate disruption. The authors are internationally recognized experts in the field, most with years of experience. The Research Handbook is edited by three scholars and practitioners whose publications and work deal with the law of international watercourses.
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Chapter 23: Europe: international water law and the EU Water Framework Directive

Götz Reichert


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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