April 12, the European Court of Auditors published the special report Combating eutrophication in the Baltic Sea: further and more effective action needed.
The auditors have used a range of evidence to analyse to state of eutrophication reduction and assessment of whether actions implemented by the Member States have been successful.
Baltic Nest Institute experts have been interviewed and research by BNI has been analyzed.
LIMITED PROGRESS IN COMBATING EUTROPHICATION
There are several EU-wide policies and strategies in the Baltic Sea region, aiming to achieve an improved environmental status, with decreased eutrophication being a major goal.
These include e.g. the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
Despite these efforts and significant EU funding, the report stresses that there has been limited progress and lack of ambition in cutting nutrient pollution in the Baltic Sea.
Agriculture and urban waste-water
The auditors say that the main sources of nutrient loads causing eutrophication are agriculture and urban waste water.
They also critique that although it is well known that agriculture is one of the biggest polluters, several countries allow farmers to spread an excess of manure on their farms, thus contributing to eutrophication of the Baltic.
HIGHER AMBITION AND MORE ACTION NEEDED
Mr. Ville Itälä, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report states, “Improving water quality in the Baltic needs more targeted action and more co-operation with Russia”.
The auditors recommend Member States to:
• target agri-environmental schemes to areas where the impact on nutrient reduction is highest,
• establish nitrate action programme requirements based on the most recent studies,
• plan and construct their waste water infrastructure as efficiently as possible.
... and the European Commission to
• require the Member States to designate appropriate nitrate-vulnerable zones,
• assess compliance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive more quickly,
• promote projects to reduce the nutrient load being discharged into the Baltic from Russia and Belarus.
Download the report here