Exemptions of the EU Water Framework Directive Deterioration Ban: Comparing Implementation Approaches in Lower Saxony and the Netherlands
The sustainable use of precious water resources requires effective water management. In the European Union, water management is mainly regulated by the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), introducing an integrated river basin management approach. As EU directive, the legislation needs to be implemented in the Member States, entailing not only legal transposition, but also application and enforcement in Member States. One major instrument introduced by the Water Framework Directive is the
... Directive is the environmental goal achievement obligation of art. 4 WFD, containing also a deterioration ban with several exemptions. This study compares transposition, application and enforcement of the exemption of permanent deterioration (art. 4 (7) WFD) in the context of the environmental goal achievement obligation regime in Lower Saxony (Germany) and the Netherlands. The study rests on a legal analysis of literature, policy documents and jurisprudence. Although based on the same EU directive wording and case law of the European Court of Justice, the deterioration ban and the exemption of permanent deterioration are implemented rather differently: While the deterioration ban is predominantly understood as planning obligation in the Netherlands, it became an important permit requirement in Lower Saxony since the Weser-ruling of the European Court of Justice.