|The regional assessment focuses on the relationship between the UN Watercourses Convention, the European Union (EU) and its Member States. Among these countries, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and United Kingdom, sponsored the conventions adoption. To date Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden are parties to it. All votes within the UN General Assembly were in favour of the UN Watercourses Convention, except for the abstentions from Bulgaria, France, and Spain. No EU country voted against the Convention.
Most EU countries are heavily reliant on water resources flowing from out with their territory, and it is therefore not surprising that there is a long tradition of conflict and cooperation of Europe’s transboundary waters. Such history has resulted in the adoption of numerous bi-lateral and basin-specific agreements. At the regional level, the 1992 UNECE Helsinki Convention seeks to implement integrated water resources management (IWRM) throughout Europes transboundary waters. Adopted in 2000, the EU Water Framework Directive (“WFD”) aims to prevent further deterioration of water resources in the EU and to reach adequate water quality and quantity status in all of the member states inland and coastal waters by 2015. The WFD seeks to implement Integrated Water Resources Management, calling for the sustainable development of water resources and promoting the integration between land and water management at the catchment level and between water and other major EU policies.
A comparative analysis of both these regional instruments and the UN Watercourses Convention finds that there are no conflicts between their provisions. However, differences do exist in the scope of each instrument and in the extent of the obligations placed upon the respective parties. Such differences are inevitable. Regional instruments tend to attract a greater degree of detail given the relatively closer shared values of the negotiating parties. These findings lead to a few conclusions: