Danish River Basin Plans (EU legal proceedings)

The European Commission is taking Denmark to the EU Court of Justice for a failure to present plans for managing its river basins. These plans are essential to put the measures in place to achieve the objective of ‘good status’ for Danish waters by 2015 and should have been adopted before December 2009. Press Release.

Under the EU Water Framework Directive, Member States must publish a management plan for each river basin district under their control, with Member States that share international rivers working together to produce a single international river basin management plan. The public and other interested parties must be consulted on such plans, which are then published in draft form, allowing six months for comments in writing. The plans had to be sent to the Commission in 2010.

Denmark missed the original deadline for submitting its plans, and the Commission opened an infringement procedure. Denmark then adopted the required plans in 2012. Shortly after their adoption however, the Danish Courts found that the consultation period set by the authorities for comments on the draft plans had been too short under Danish law, and the plans were therefore annulled.

This led to a situation in which, several years after the deadline, Denmark still had no river basin management plans in place. The Commission therefore re-opened the infringement procedure and Denmark confirmed in December 2013, the absence of management plans, noting that adoption was unlikely before mid-2014. The case is therefore being referred to the Court.

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