Today, Tuesday the Parliament adopted its position on the reduction of groundwater and surface water pollution and improving EU water quality standards.

MEPs want EU watch lists (which contain substances that pose a significant risk to human health and the environment) to be regularly updated to keep pace with new scientific evidence and to include new chemicals. They also want a subset of specific PFAS (perfluoroalkylated and polyfluorinated alkylated substances, also known as “permanent chemicals”), as well as total PFAS (i.e., the maximum total concentration of all PFAS classes) to be added to the lists for both the pollutants of groundwater as well as for surface pollutants.

Several other substances, including microplastics and antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms, should also be added to these lists once suitable monitoring methods are found.

The approved report also includes stricter standards for various pesticides (including glyphosate and atrazine) and pharmaceuticals.

Producers selling products containing polluting chemicals will have to contribute to the financing of monitoring costs, an activity currently funded only by Member States.

The parliament voted in favor of the report with 495 votes in favor, 12 against and 124 abstentions.

After the vote, rapporteur Milan Brglez (Socialists, Slovenia) said: “The review of EU water legislation, including the Water Framework Directive and its two subsidiary directives, is one of the key policy tools to deliver on our commitments under the Zero Pollution Action Plan. Enhanced protection of EU waters is extremely important, especially in the context of the increasingly pressing effects of climate change, combined with industrial and agricultural pollution, on our water resources.”

MEPs are now ready to start talks on the final form of the legislation once the Council agrees its position.

George Fellidis