EIGHT EUROPEAN countries were this week fighting to avoid prosecution for failing to adopt European Union (EU) water legislation.
Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland have all missed deadlines for adopting the EU water framework directive.
'Of the 25 member states, applications have gone to the Court of Justice to prosecute eight for not adopting the water framework directive into their national law, ' said European Commission deputy head of the water unit Helmut Bloech.
Bloech was speaking at the ICE's river basin management conference in Budapest last week (see ICE news).
The Water Framework Directive requires countries to manage water on a catchment basis using river basin management plans.
tchments must work towards achieving 'good ecological status' by implementing measures to improve water quality. This is expected to cost most EU states billions of pounds.
The first step to adopting the directive was for each member state to pass legislation adopting the directive by 31 December 2003.
'We sent out a nice letter first, then we sent a fi nal warning and now we have applied for judgements to be made, ' said Bloech.
If the European Court of Justice agrees with the Commission and the member states fail to implement the directive, they will face hefty fines.
Portugal and the Netherlands both said that they would adopt the directive by the end of June. 'We had a recent change of government which delayed things, ' said a Portugese environment ministry spokesman.
Luxembourg blamed the delay on lack of resources. 'We are a very small country and don't have enough specialists to help us drive this through. It is usual for us to be delayed, ' said a government spokesman.
Other states have transcribed the legislation into federal law but have this ratified by regional governments.