B. Resource Management

14. Water management in the Danube River basin is driven by the principles of the EU WFD under the auspices of the International Convention for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The ICPDR was established in 1998 on the basis of the Danube River Protection Convention, the major legal instrument for cooperation and transboundary water management in the Danube River Basin, and the platform for implementation of all transboundary aspects of the EU WFD. With support from the ICPDR, the 19 countries of the Danube watershed have elaborated a Danube RBMP in conformity with the WFD. The plan was first adopted in 2009 and was updated jointly by all countries in 2015, in conformity with the WFD’s six-year timeline. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the protection and enhancement of the status of inland surface and groundwater, and to ensure sustainable use of water resources. It aims to ensure that all waters meet “good status,” which is the ultimate objective of the WFD.

15. All countries except Montenegro have set up basin management authorities and prepared RBMPs, primarily driven by ambition to comply with the WFD requirements. This represents an important increase compared to 2015, where only-two thirds of the countries had installed effective basin authorities and half of the countries had elaborated RBMPs. Following WFD requirements, all EU member states have completed and approved RBMPs. Non- EU member states follow a similar trend. For example, Bosnia and Herzegovina has prepared RBMPs for all its river basins while Albania, Moldova, and Serbia have done so in most of their river basins. Furthermore, management plans are under preparation in Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Ukraine. These findings emphasize that EU water legislation is a powerful driver for candidate and potential candidate countries to formalize their water policies.

16. In almost all countries of the region, water extraction rights and wastewater discharge permits are implemented and are used to collect resources. Compared to three years ago, these fees are systematically charged and perceived, except in Kosovo. Nevertheless, for most countries, the funds collected are not necessarily assigned to the water supply sector spending, thus not complying with “water pays for water” policy principle. In addition, the allocation of financial resources is largely done on arbitrary or political basis in almost all countries, and the provenance and use of the funds are not made public, underlining a lack of transparency. Table 1 summarizes the main characteristics of water resources management in the reviewed countries.