The environmental objectives are defined in Article 4 - the core article - of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The aim is long-term sustainable water management based on a high level of protection of the aquatic environment. Article 4.1 defines the WFD general objective to be achieved in all surface and groundwater bodies, i.e. good status by 2015, and introduces the principle of preventing any further deterioration of status. There follow a number of exemptions to the general objectives that allow for less stringent objectives, extension of deadline beyond 2015, or the implementation of new projects, provided a set of conditions are fulfilled.
For a more detailed discussion of the environmental objectives of the WFD please consult the consolidated paper prepared in the context of the WFD Common Implementation Strategy:
The intercalibration exercise is a key element in making the general environmental objective operational in a harmonised way throughout the EU. For more information on its legal basis, its objective, the organisation of the work, and the expected outcome of the process see Ecological Status and Intercalibration.