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Ireland Referred to EU Court of Justice Over River Basin Management Plan

8th February 2024

Ireland has been referred by the European Commission to its court of justice for failing to finalise revision of its river basin management plan.

Ireland is one of six EU member states which have had the court referral issued to it by the EU, having failed to fully comply with the Water Framework and/or Floods directives.

“The Water Framework Directive focuses on ensuring good qualitative and quantitative health of European water bodies, such as rivers and lakes,” the Commission says.

“It aims to reduce and remove pollution as well as ensure that there is enough water to support at the same time human needs and wildlife. It is an essential part of the European Green Deal and necessary to reach its climate, nature, and pollution reduction targets. Compliance with the Floods Directive is critical for preparedness and management of floods,”it says.

Under the Water Framework Directive, member states must update and report their river basin management plans every six years.

These plans, which include a programme of measures, are key to ensure good status or potential of all water bodies as required by the directive.

Under the Floods Directive, member states must also update and report their flood risk management plans every six years.

The Commission says it sent letters of formal notice in February 2023, followed by reasoned opinions in September 2023, to all countries that had failed to update and review these plans.

“Despite some progress, six countries still fail to comply with their obligations under either or both directives,” it says.

Spain, Malta, and Portugal have “still not fully reported their third river basin management plans and second flood risk management plans”, it says.

“Ireland and Bulgaria have still not fully reported third river basin management plans,” it says, while Slovakia has “still not fully reported the second flood risk management plans”.

“The Commission considers that efforts by the authorities have, to date, been insufficient and is therefore referring Ireland, Bulgaria, Spain, Malta, Portugal, and Slovakia to the Court of Justice of the European Union,”it says in a statement issued on Wed Feb 7.

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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