Transboundary river basin management in Europe


The obligations arising from the European water directives are, in principle, aimed at a certain result to be achieved by each individual Member State.5 Due to the transboundary nature

of water management, these objectives can only be achieved, however, if the parties located in a transnational river basin (EU Member States and non-Member States) cooperate. The combination

of, on the one hand, the geographical area approach which requires Member States to cooperate (even with third countries, if need be) and, on the other, objectives that have to be met by each Member State individually, leads to a fragile balance as a result of which it is not clear whether Member States can be held responsible for not achieving the objectives due to reasons

over which they do not have complete control.

As the new water directives, and the Water Framework Directive in particular, focus primarily on the achievement of a specific objective, it is of the utmost importance to know exactly which possibilities are available to central or decentralised government bodies in order to meet these obligations in cases of transboundary water pollution or increased flood risk. This article addresses the legal instruments which Member States and (decentralised) water authorities have at their disposal in this respect to meet their European obligations and thus shape transboundary river basin management.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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