Revival Planned for the Black Sea and Danube River

BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 2, 2001 (ENS) - The European Union has announced plans for reinforced international cooperation to clean up the River Danube and the Black Sea. Under the initiative, countries of the region will voluntarily implement the EU's new water framework directive even though several of them are not yet even candidates to join the bloc.

Ministers will meet in Brussels on November 26 to formalize the agreement.

In a policy paper released this week, the European Commission said the Danube Black Sea region is facing acute environmental problems. Key among these are nitrate and phosphorus eutrophication and pollution by hazardous substances.

Last year's toxic waste spill of cyanide laced mine waste in Romania which killed much of the aquatic life in the Danube River system emphasised the dire state of this, the longest waterway in Europe.

Danube

The Danube River (Photo courtesy Four Winds Travel)
The Danube is the source of drinking water for 10 million people in Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine.

Last month in Kalmar, Sweden, a regional team who are members of the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) presented a report warning that the Black Sea is in crisis as a result of chronic overfishing, high levels of pollution and the devastating impacts of alien species.

Large discharges of raw sewage, damaging levels of coastal erosion and the suffocating impacts of dumping of sludges and muds dredged from ports, complicate the Black Sea's problems, the GIWA scientists said.

The centerpiece of the European response is a political commitment by all Danubian countries, including those in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union, to implement the water framework directive and its river basin management principles over a 10 year period. This has been made recently under the existing Danube river protection convention.

No extra European Union funding is proposed, but the Commission said existing aid commitments will made be "more efficient" in targeting sources of Danube pollution.

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{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}