Doc. 10510

22 April 2005

Transboundary water basins in Europe

Recommendation 1669 (2004)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 924th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (20 April 2005)

The Committee of Ministers has considered Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1669 (2004) on transboundary water basins in Europe and has brought it to the attention of their governments, as well as to the Committee of Senior Officials of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT), the Council of Europe Development Bank and to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

The Committee of Ministers would like to point out that the work programme for 2004-2006 of the Committee of Senior Officials includes a programme called “To support the setting up of common projects which will help to achieve integrated management of programmes managed by different bodies”. Its key action is supporting the setting up of new integrated projects similar to the “Cooperation for the sustainable spatial development of the river Tisza/Tisa basin project”, mentioned by the Assembly in its Recommendation. Implementation of this programme coincides with the recommendations of the Assembly.

In addition, in accordance with the theme of the 14th CEMAT that will be held in Portugal in 2006 on “Networks for sustainable territorial development of the European Continent”, work will be carried out to create a network of cooperation projects for sustainable spatial development of transboundary river basins based on the experience of the Tisza/Tisa basin project.

The usefulness and feasibility of a recommendation on the role and necessary powers of local and regional authorities with regard to the management of transboundary water resources could be clearer after this Conference and in the light of the results thereof. The Committee of Ministers will therefore take a decision on this proposal after the 14th CEMAT and inform the Assembly accordingly.

As regards the drafting of a model agreement on the management of transboundary lakes and river basins to be appended to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation between Territorial Communities or Authorities, the countries with significant experience in this field can submit proposals within the Committee of Experts on Transfrontier Cooperation (LR-CT) with a view to ascertaining whether there is any need for such a model agreement. If this were to be the case, the LR-CT could prepare it in the framework of its terms of reference which enable it, inter alia, to make proposals for the elimination of obstacles, in particular of a legal nature, to transfrontier and interterritorial cooperation; to facilitate the exchange of information and views on the experience gained, in particular good practice examples in the field of transfrontier and interterritorial cooperation and to make proposals, at intergovernmental level, in order to encourage and facilitate transfrontier and interterritorial cooperation.

As regards the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), between 1999 and 2004, it approved a total of 319 million euros for three projects to deal with the consequences of flooding in the Tisza basin in Hungary.

Another project, for an amount of 40 million euros, was approved in 2003 for Romania and concerned flood protection measures in the context of the government's reconstruction and prevention scheme. The CEB has also continued to finance restoration and consolidation work on the shores of the Danube and the Black Sea in Bulgaria.

More generally, as regards holding a donor conference under the auspices of the Council of Europe Development Bank in order to raise the necessary funds for the implementation of the previously cited common action plans for the preservation of transboundary water resources, the Committee of Ministers would like to underline that the CEB already makes an important contribution to this end by way of its long-term loans in line with its very nature as a development bank.

In addition, the Committee of Ministers would like to draw the Assembly’s attention to the fact that the subject of transboundary water basins is not central to the work of the Council of Europe.

Appendix 1 to the reply

Opinion of the Committee of Senior Officials of the European Conference of Ministers

responsible for Regional/Spatial Planning (CSO-CEMAT) on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1669 (2004) on transboundary water basins in Europe

The Committee of Senior Officials of the CEMAT would like to thank the Committee of Ministers for consulting it in order to have possible comments about Recommendation 1669 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly on transboundary water basins in Europe, thus recognising the need to consider sustainable territorial development in relation to transboundary water basins in Europe.

The Committee of Senior Officials of CEMAT welcomes the support of the Parliamentary Assembly for the Initiative on the Sustainable Spatial Development of the Tisza/Tisa River Basin, signed in Ljubljana at the 13th CEMAT, in 2003.

Although agreeing with the Recommendation we would like to propose a few minor amendments:

Paragraph 4 – The European Union Water Framework Directive was adopted in 2000.

Paragraph 6 – “The concept of river basin as an instrument …”;

Paragraph 8 – “… should be carried out at river basin level …”;

Paragraph 9 – “… for the introduction of harmonised policies, programmes and strategies for the sustainable development1 of transboundary waters based on sound territorial, cultural, social and economic criteria. …”.

Paragraph 10 – All the strands of Interreg should be considered, as many river basins concern more than just transfrontier situations; so we propose “… applying to the Interreg Programmes financed by …”.

The Committee of Senior Officials is willing to cooperate in the implementation of this Recommendation through its work programme for 2004-2006 that includes “To support the setting up of common projects which will help to achieve integrated management of programmes managed by different bodies”, having as a key action supporting the setting up of new integrated projects similar to the “Cooperation for the sustainable spatial development of the river Tisza/Tisa basin project”.

In accordance with the theme of the 14th CEMAT which will be held in Portugal in 2006 on “Networks for sustainable territorial development of the European Continent”, it will work to create a network of cooperation projects for sustainable spatial development of transboundary river basins based on the experience of the Tisza/Tisa basin project.

Appendix 2 to the reply

Opinion of the Governing Board of the Council of Europe Development Bank

on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1669 (2004) on transboundary water basins in Europe,

The Governing Board took note of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1669 (2004), in particular paragraph 5, voicing the Assembly's support for the Initiative on the Sustainable Spatial Development of the Tisza/Tissa river basin, and paragraph 16 (iii), recommending that the Committee of Ministers envisage holding a donor conference under the auspices of the Council of Europe Development Bank, in order to raise the necessary funds for the implementation of the previously cited common action plans for the preservation of transboundary water resources, underlining that the CEB makes an already important contribution to this end by way of its long-term loans, in line with its very nature of development bank of the institution.

In particular, the Governing Board notes with interest the comments made in the Assembly's recommendation concerning the Initiative on the Sustainable Development of the Tisza river basin, signed at the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT) by Hungary, Romania, Serbia- Montenegro, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine.

It points out, in this connection, that between 1999 and 2004 the CEB approved a total of 319 million euros for three projects to deal with the consequences of flooding in the Tisza basin in Hungary.

Another project, in an amount of 40 million euros, was approved in 2003 for Romania and concerned flood protection measures in the context of the government's reconstruction and prevention scheme. The CEB has also continued to finance restoration and consolidation work on the shores of the Danube and the Black Sea in Bulgaria.

The Governing Board also draws attention to the interest shown by the CEB in the proceedings of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT), in which it regularly participates.


1 Thus including management, protection and development.