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Measures to tackle key pressures and impacts, which lead to failure of achieving the WFD objectives, can only be carried out with sufficient funding. Adequate financing of WFD measures is as essential for fulfilling the goals of the Directive as administrative and technical capacity, scientific knowledge, and political willingness. Funding obstacles have been identified as the most common reason for delaying or not completing the implementation of supplementary measures in the first Programmes of Measures as well as one of the key reasons causing delay or non-completion of basic measures at EU level (EC, 2019).

The sources of funding for WFD measures are a combination of EU, national, regional, and municipal funds, direct financing by sectors and the general public as consumers. For financing measures in the RBMPs, the WFD relies to a certain extent on the recovery of the costs of water services (WFD Article 9), especially via the water prices charged. Box 6 presents the example of the “water cent” in Germany which is an additional charge levied on groundwater abstraction and used to fund pollution reduction measures in agriculture. Also in France, the river basin agencies (Agences de l’eau) collect water abstraction and discharge charges from water users in a given river basin and allocate those funds as grants to water users in the same basin. The majority of these funds initially financed piped water and sewer network expansion and rehabilitation, as well as investments in wastewater treatment plants. In 2016, the French river basin agencies received an additional mandate through the biodiversity law, which requires that they also fund projects with a climate adaptation and biodiversity focus (Trémolet et al., 2019). In Denmark, fish care management is financed by funds from the Danish fishing license fees and among others covers activities such as the improvement of the living conditions and habitats for fish (Danish Fisheries Agency, 2020). Similar schemes are found in other European countries.

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