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The EU Water Framework Directive implementation in the Iberian context

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Rodrigo Maia

Article:
AbstractTransboundary Rivers are of main importance in Europe where they represent more than 60% of the territory. This importance is of main relevance for the Iberian Peninsula countries (Portugal and Spain) sharing five rivers: Minho, Lima, Douro, Tejo and Guadiana. These five river basins cover and area of 268 500 km2 of which 21% belong to Portugal and represent 65% of the Portuguese territory. Moreover, it should be pointed out that about 95% of this area corresponds to the Douro, Tejo and Guadiana river basins. Since the 18th Century, Portugal and Spain, have been celebrating several Treaties and Conventions, having in mind the establishment of common water management coordination. In 1998, the Convention on Cooperation for Portuguese-Spanish River Basins Protection and Sustainable Use, usually referenced as the Albufeira Convention, was approved and defined the current framework of bilateral cooperation, also solving the 1964 and 1968 active Conventions mutually recognised limitations. The 1998 Convention established the basis for a basin-based water management and a decision-making process, that were confirmed to be in compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements, approved later in 2000. In particular, River (sub-) Basin Management Plans should be defined and discussed, one per country. In fact, the two countries have later decided that the CADC (Commission for Convention Appliance and Development), created by the Convention, should be not only the driving force for the Convention appliance but also the most adequate structure for a common and cooperative WFD Iberian implementation process (Maia, 2003). In accordance with that, CADC was in due time indicated to the EU as the competent authority for all the shared river basins interrelated bilateral issues, surely a singular situation in shared rivers’ water management current policy. Nevertheless, last years’ experience distinctly demonstrated that Portugal and Spain still need to carry out a strong internal and bilateral effort, namely in institutional terms, to adequate their water policy to WFD aimed goals and scheduled plan of actions. In fact, some important interrelated bilateral water issues are still on the agenda of the countries, urging the development and intensification of bilateral cooperation, namely on: (i) the coordination of extreme hydrological situations (floods and droughts); (ii) the establishment of minimum and environmental flow regimes; (iii) the quality control of bordering inflows, affecting the Portuguese river stretches as well as, in the Guadiana river, the common estuary zone; (iv) the development of environmental interdependency awareness and measures, namely by fostering bilateral Stakeholders involvement; and also (v) the implementation of the necessary institutional adequacy. The specific effects and changes that the WFD implementation already originated in both countries will be presented. Moreover, a special emphasis will be given to the medium and long term influence of WFD at two levels: (i) the national level, with a special emphasis on the Portuguese Case; and (ii) the Iberian level, aiming to identify and suggest bilateral approaches and necessary steps for integration of diverse multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary expertise. References Maia, R., 2003. Iberian Peninsula’s Shared Rivers Harmonization of Use: A Portuguese Perspective. “Water Management in the Iberian Peninsula”, IWRA, Water International, September 2003, Vol. 28 (3), pp 389-397.
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