It is a great pleasure and responsibility for the European Union to hold the ICPDR Presidency once again. In 2004, during our previous Presidency, the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive was in its early stage and the Floods Directive was yet to be adopted. Since then, a lot has been achieved. The EU itself has grown – it welcomed new Member States, many of which are part of the ICPDR family. What’s more, our EU water legislation has been further developed and the first River Basin Management Plans – unique tools under the EU Water Framework Directive – as well as the first Danube Flood Risk Management Plan have been adopted. These plans are the best evidence of successful cooperation in collectively adhering to the advanced EU water legislation in this most international river basin in the world.
We now need to focus our efforts on future tasks – such as implementing the Joint Programme of Measures that is to bring more water bodies in the Danube River Basin to good status. As this is a demanding task, the EU wants to use this year of its ICPDR Presidency to provide targeted support to the work of the ICPDR. In addition, our Presidency is an opportunity to improve the coordination of various activities at the EU level with the activities in the Danube River Basin.
This is a very important year for the European Commission as it falls between the deadline for EU Members States to report the new plans and the deadline for the European Commission to publish the next Water Framework Directive and Floods Directive Implementation Report. This report will assess the plans and guide the evaluation of EU water legislation which is also approaching.
Clearly, very interesting times lie ahead of us! The EU cherishes its direct involvement in the work of the ICPDR as a unique forum comprised of many of our EU Member States and close neighbours. This Danube cooperation continues to be a model for other shared basins across the world, and it is a privilege to be part of such a successful cooperation which by its actions contributes to healthier and safer waters for European citizens to enjoy.