Wastewater Management in the Danube Region: Challenges and Opportunities of EU accession

Description of the activity

The World Bank has initated the study "Wastewater Management in the Danube Region: Challenges and Opportunities of EU accession" (Umweltbundesamt and IOW 2017). This study focuses on the specific Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD), which presents one entry point for regional cooperation and improvement of water resources management in the Danube basin. Because of its centrality to compliance with EU laws, and in particular the Water Framework Directive, all countries have an incentive to understand its impact and therefore are the true beneficiaries of this study.

Implementation of the activity

The objective of this study was to assess the results of the UWWTD in the Danube Region, taking into account environmental, economic, sustainability and affordability aspects. The specific geographic focus of the study is on the 8 EU Member States of DRB in central, east, and southeast Europe, namely: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Most of these countries are still in the process of implementing the UWWTD in line with harmonization schedules agreed with the EU during the accession process for new Member States, and from which future member states of Danube region can learn. The only exemption is Austria that fulfills the UWWTD completely.


In order to achieve the objective, the study has addressed three core questions: (i) Are we doing the right thing, i.e. are we achieving good quality water, as defined by WFD, through harmonization with the UWWTD requirements in the region; (ii) Are we doing it the right way, i.e. are selected EU Member Countries from DRB harmonizing its water sector with UWWTD requirements in the right way, notably: absorbing allocated EU funds, constructing optimally performing wastewater treatment plants, and creating sustainable/affordable mechanisms for their operation over time; (iii) Is it worth it, i.e. what is the cost-efficiency of compliance with UWWTD? The study will not seek to answer all of those questions conclusively, but rather to provide elements for the discussion around key challenges around the UWWTD directive implementation in new member states. In parallel, the study documents specific good practices that might show how to improve implementation efficiency and sustainability, which would be beneficial to candidate states.

Work on this study started in April 2017, and was completed in October, 2017.

For further information, please contact Stjepan Gabric, who has led the implementation of this study on the Bank’s side.

Focus Note: Is the UWWTD implementation delivering results for the people, the economy and the environment of the Danube region?

This note is a review of the study by the World Bank team and has been informed by a regional stakeholder workshop on wastewater management with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) held in Bucharest in December 2017. It has also been reviewed and commented by the European Commission, which sees it as an important piece to advance the dialogue on wastewater management issues in view of the UWWTD revision process. The final Focus Note was published in December 2018, which is, like the study issued by Umweltbundesamt in 2017, available below.

Related documents

Summary of Session "Financing Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure and its Operation" at 2017 DWC

Study - Wastewater Management in the Danube Region: Challenges and Opportunities of EU accession (Umweltbundesamt and IOW 2017).

Annex to the Study (2017).

Is the UWWTD Implementation Delivering Results for the People, the Economy, and the Environment of the Danube Region? A Wastewater Management Assessment Based on the World Bank's Engagement