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European Union European Union directive:
Directive 2000/60/EC
Water Framework Directive
Made by European Parliament & Council
Made under Article 175(1)
Journal reference OJL 327, 22 December 2000, pp. 1–73
Made 23 October 2000
Came into force 22 December 2000
Implementation date 22 December 2003
Preparative texts
Other legislation
Amended by Decision No 2455/2001/EC, Directive 2008/32/EC
Status: Current legislation

The Water Framework Directive (more formally the 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) is a European Union directive which commits European Union member states to achieve good qualitative and quantitative status of all water bodies (including marine waters up to kilometer from shore) by 2015. It is a framework in the sense that it prescribes steps to reach the common goal rather than adopting the more traditional limit value approach.

The directive defines 'surface water status' as the general expression of the status of a body of surface water, determined by the poorer of its ecological status and its chemical status. Thus, to achieve 'good surface water status' both the ecological status and the chemical status of a surface water body need to be at least 'good'. Ecological status refers to the quality of the structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems of the surface waters. Water is an important facet of all life and the water framework directive sets standards which ensure the safe access of this resource.

The Directive requires the production of a number of key documents over six year planning cycles. Most important among these is the River Basin Management Plans, to be published in 2009, 2015 and 2021. Draft River Basin Management Plans are published for consultation at least one year prior.

Good ecological status is defined locally as being lower than a theoretical reference point of pristine conditions, i.e. in the absence of anthropogenic influence. Article 14 of the directive requires member states "to encourage the active involvement of interested parties" in the implementation of the directive. This is generally acknowledged to be an assimilation of the Aarhus Convention.[1]

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