Setting environmental Quality Standard for glyphosate

Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) are set to protect receiving surface waters* from the harmful effects of contaminants.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD; 2000/60/EC) requires the Commission to identify Priority Substances among those presenting a significant EU-wide risk to or via the aquatic environment and to set EU-wide EQS for those substances in surface water, sediment and/or biota. EQS derivation is outlined in the EQS directive and associated WFD technical guidance document 27.

In 2001, the first list of 33 Priority Substances was adopted (Decision 2455/2001), and the EQS for those substances was established in a 2008 list (Directive 2008/105/EC or EQS Directive, EQSD).  A third list was published in 2013 (Directive 2013/39/EU), adding 12 new priority substances, including 45 substances in total.

The WFD requires the Commission to review the list periodically (Article 16). In the framework of the fourth review, technical work to support it has been underway for some time.

The dossier on EQS for glyphosate was prepared by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and reviewed by the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) following a mandate by the EU Commission. The SCHEER published its preliminary opinion on 30 September 2022, following which the GRG submitted its comments, available to download via this link. 

Ahead of the completion of the process and the publication of the SCHEER final opinion, the EU Commission published on 26 October 2022 its proposal for a legislative package, in which they have proposed surface water EQS values for glyphosate.

*A river, ocean, stream, or other watercourse into which wastewater or treated effluent is discharged.

GRG statement on the setting EQS for glyphosate

On 26 October 2022, the Commission published a legal proposal for the revision of the List of Groundwater and Surface Water Pollutants, thereby also setting surface water threshold values for glyphosate.  In the meantime, the process for the review of the Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) for glyphosate is still ongoing, as provided in the Water Framework Directive.

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