Members' Research Service By / June 9, 2023

Pollutants in EU waters: Update of chemical substances listed for control [EU Legislation in Progress]

Clean water is essential for healthy ecosystems, as well as for many human uses, including drinking, bathing, and agriculture.

© IVASHstudio / Adobe Stock

Written by Vivienne Halleux (2nd edition, updated on 08.09.2023).

As required by EU water legislation, and in line with the European Green Deal’s zero pollution ambition, on 26 October 2022 the European Commission tabled a proposal to revise the lists of surface water and groundwater pollutants that need to be monitored and controlled for the purpose of protection of EU freshwater bodies, and the associated environmental quality standards. The proposal also seeks to remedy shortcomings identified in the current framework as regards chemical pollution in waters, and notably to enable swifter adaptation to scientific knowledge.

Stakeholders’ views on the proposed text are mixed. Non-governmental organisations are pushing for more ambition, for instance on chemical mixtures, pesticides, deadlines, and producers’ responsibility for covering monitoring costs. Industry representatives have meanwhile expressed some concerns, notably about the achievability and scientific grounding of certain new standards.

During its September 2023 plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on the report adopted in June by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). This will then form Parliament’s position for future negotiations with the Council.


Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and the Council amending Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, Directive 2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration and Directive 2008/105/EC on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy
Committee responsible:Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)COM(2022) 540
Rapporteur:Milan Brglez (S&D, Slovenia)2022/0344(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs:Dace Melbārde (EPP, Latvia)
Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Renew, Poland)
Ville Niinistö (Greens/EFA, Finland)
Karol Karski (ECR, Poland)
Rosanna Conte (ID, Italy)
Marina Mesure (The Left, France)
Ordinary legislative
procedure (COD)
(Parliament and Council
on equal footing – formerly
Next steps expected: Vote in plenary on committee report

timeline-10 steps-voted in plenary

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