Common Implementation Strategy (CIS)





The aim of the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) – agreed on by the member states, Norway, and the Commission – is to foster and facilitate cooperation and coordination of the WFD implementation across Europe. The implementation process represents a significant governance challenge: not only are concerted actions required by different stakeholders at different levels (Member States, Commission, Candidate Countries, EEA Countries, citizens, NGOs), but many European River Basins are international and cross administrative and territorial borders, demanding a common understanding and approach.

Under the CIS process, several Guidance Documents (providing advice on operational methods and having informal and non-legally binding character) that focus specifically on technical and scientific methodologies have been produced. The compilation of these documents was carried out under four Working Groups – Ecological Status, Integrated River Basin Management, Groundwater, and Reporting – and resulted in a common reference focusing specifically on technical and scientific methodologies across Europe. These were later tested in different pilot river basins (see PRBs for more detail). Also, CIS working groups have been recently working on the concept of assessing Environmental Resource Costs and Benefits (ERCB), but outcomes have been primarily theoretical and conceptual in nature. Therefore, research projects like AquaMoney have been launched to close this gap and develop ERCB guidelines for practical application. Furthermore, the Working Groups under this strategy also support the Commission in furthering policy development, especially with regard to certain water-related daughter directives (e.g. Groundwater Directive, Priority Substances Directive, Floods Directive).


For more information on the activities and mandates of these Working Groups, please see:




Pilot River Basins (PRBs)


Key element of the implementation strategy was an approach for testing and cross validating those guidance in practice, which resulted in the establishment of a network of Pilot River Basins. The Pilot River Basins were selected based on the following objectives:



The objective of first Phase (2002-2004) was mainly to test and report on coherence amongst the different Guidance Documents, eventually leading to long-term development of River Basin Management Plans and the preparation of 'Programs of Measures' (both due by the end of 2009). The main deliverable of Phase I was the PRB Outcome Report, which has been published in 2005, and is based on 15 river basins (see figure 1).



         Figure 1: River Basins in the EU and the 15 Pilot River Basins of Phase I (2004-2005)