Water Framework Directive


The Water Framework Directive is the EU’s main policy for protection of surface waters and ground water. Member States and other stakeholders are all involved in controlling risks and managing European river basins, as well as ensuring good ecological and chemical status for European waters.

4 metals

are on the Priority Substances List

Why it’s important

Four metals are in the existing list of “priority substances” presenting a significant risk to the aquatic environment. The European Commission has derived an EU-wide Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) for each, which must be complied with in all Member States.

Other metals are risk-assessed every 6 years alongside other substances, for potential inclusion on the Priority Substances list.

What we are seeking

When selecting Priority Substances, EU regulators should use the best available knowledge on how metals behave in water:

  • Use up-to-date metal datasets and scientific evidence, as collected under REACH
  • Make “dissolved fraction” the primary reference for metal concentrations in water
  • Implement a robust and reliable statistical methodology (using the 90th percentile of datasets) 
  • Ensure the consideration of bioavailability 

Annalisa Bortoluzzi

EHS Manager


+32 2 775 63 84

Supporting Documents