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Development and implementation of the concept of disproportionate costs in water management in Central Europe in the light of the EU WFD

Jan Macháč
Faculty of Social and Economic Studies, J.E. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic; jan.machac@ujep.cz

Jan Brabec
Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague 5, Czech Republic; and Faculty of Social and Economic Studies, J.E. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic; brabec@e-academia.eu

Ondřej Vojáček
Faculty of Social and Economic Studies, J.E. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic; ondrej.vojacek@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Many Central European water bodies that failed to achieve the good ecological and chemical status required by the Water Framework Directive in the first management cycle are expected to again fail in the second cycle. An exemption from achieving good status may be applied for under certain circumstances but must be justified. One option is to show that achieving good status is not cost proportionate, but no uniform methodology for assessing proportionality exists in the EU. The paper maps the existing approaches to this type of justification in the Central European countries. The methods used to justify exemptions differ significantly among the countries. A large majority of reports mention monetary cost–benefit analysis, although a range of other methods such as distribution of costs, affordability and criterial cost–benefit analysis are also utilised. The findings show that countries that have experience with proportionality assessment from the first management cycle or have created clear and easy-to-use methodologies (or none) are more likely to justify the exemption by citing disproportionate costs; on the other hand, a higher complexity of methodology – such as used in the Czech Republic – creates incentives to avoid using the disproportionate-cost justification and to instead utilise other available types of justification.

KEYWORDS: Water Framework Directive, good status, exemption, cost proportionality, Central Europe, justification