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09.10.18

Protect Water Campaign Beer Visual Square

Angling Trust joins 99 environmental groups to launch European campaign to save the EU water law

A 100-strong pan-European coalition of NGOs, including the Angling Trust, have gathered together to launch a new campaign calling on the European Commission to defend the EU law that protects all sources of Europe’s water, such as rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater, during its ongoing evaluation (known as a “fitness check”).

Healthy fish stocks and thriving fisheries depend upon plentiful water free from pollution, and existing EU law requires member states to improve lakes, streams and rivers to ‘Good Status’ by 2027. However, the implementation of this law by Governments has been poor.

The online campaign, called #ProtectWater, is led by WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, European Anglers Alliance, European Rivers Network and Wetlands International, who together form the Living Rivers Europe coalition.

The campaign uses provocative scenarios and imagery around the future of beer – which depends on clean and plentiful water for its production – to encourage citizens in Europe and beyond to participate in the European Commission’s public consultation on the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). This consultation, which runs until 4th March 2019, is the only opportunity for the general public to have its say during the evaluation of the law, and the campaign provides an easy tool for citizens to express their support to keep this law strong and effective.

Whilst the scenarios painted in the campaign might seem extreme, beer companies are indeed worried about the future quality of water in Europe, and have issued a joint statement, signed by individual breweries, including Csupor, Pivovarna Trot, and Ground Zero, as well as the Romanian Craft Brewers' Association and Slovakia’s Association of Small Independent Breweries. All of these companies recognise that their ability to produce good quality beer relies on the protection and sustainable management of Europe’s water sources, and therefore support the WFD in its current form.

Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office said: “Member States’ half-hearted implementation of the EU water law is a crime in itself, but their desperate attempts to weaken it - and before the Commission’s fitness check has even concluded - is a step too far. We urge citizens across Europe and beyond to join forces through the #ProtectWater campaign and make their voices heard. We all need clean water, and without the WFD, this will be under serious threat. Act now to defend the EU water law!”

Mark Owen, Head of Freshwater at the Angling Trust, said: “Europe’s rivers and lakes are dying under our eyes and, through the beer imagery, we want to open citizens’ eyes to their unacceptable deterioration and compel them to take action. Only a bad workman blames his tools. There is no doubt that the WFD is the right tool to protect and restore Europe’s waters, and that Member States are the clear culprits: for the best part of two decades, they have relentlessly dodged their commitments and avoided effective delivery on the legally binding objectives.

Although the UK is leaving the European Union on the 31st March next year it is not clear what will happen after that with regard to legislation from the EU, particularly in any transition period. However, the UK government has made clear that environmental standards will not be lowered and has committed to leaving the environment in a better position than it inherited it in. At present the government is busy transposing all EU environment legislation into UK law, including the Water Framework Directive and it is likely that any future changes to this will be mirrored in UK law. It is therefore vital that we engage now in preventing any future changes.”

Get involved in the campaign NOW here.

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