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EU Water Framework Directive

Learn more about Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.

The "Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy" (EU Water Framework Directive - EU WFD) was adopted on 23 October 2000. Since entering into force on 22 December 2000, the EU WFD has opened a new path to water management. The purpose of this Directive is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater.

Read the complete Directive in English here .

You may find the Directive in all EU languages here .

The EU WFD aims at improving the quality of water within a specific time frame. It promotes the integrated approach of river basin management planning and provides a managerial framework and the tools for its successful and timely implementation. Among others, the EU WFD includes provisions on the following:

  • Monitoring of surface water status, groundwater status and protected areas (Article 5)
  • Programme of measures (Article 8)
  • River basin management plans (Article 10)
  • Public information and consultation (Article 11)
  • Reporting (Article 12)
  • Technical adaptations to the Directive (Article 17)




Inland water means all standing or flowing water on the surface of the land, and all groundwater on the landward side of the baseline from which the breadth of territorial waters is measured. Surface water means inland waters, except groundwater; transitional waters and coastal waters, except in respect of chemical status for which it shall also include territorial waters.

Transitional water are bodies of surface water in the vicinity of river mouths which are partly saline in character as a result of their proximity to coastal waters but which are substantially influenced by freshwater flows.

Coastal water means surface water on the landward side of a line, every point of which is at a distance of one nautical mile on the seaward side from the nearest point of the baseline from which the breadth of territorial waters is measured, extending where appropriate up to the outer limit of transitional waters.

Groundwater means all water which is below the surface of the ground in the saturation zone and in direct contact with the ground or subsoil.