After the adoption in October 2000 and the publication in December 2000 of the European Union Water Framework Directive (EU WFD), Member States have to start with the transposition into national law and the actual implementation into national water policy and water resources management. For Germany, the EU WFD contains a new approach since the main principle is to integrate the ecological, economic and social aspects of water policy and water resources management at the level of river basins. Whereas some elements of current water policy in Germany take this principle into account, in many other parts this is not the case. For France, the EU WFD is familiar, because the principle of water resources management at the level of river basins has been established by the Water Act of 1964.
Hence, it is not surprising to notice that, just a little more than one year after the publication of the EU WFD, the Assemblée nationale already adopted a Proposal for a Water Act which is to replace the Act of 1964 (and the important amendments made in 1992). In fact, in terms of current practice, the basic structure of water resources management remains unchanged. This paper examines the Proposal and — incidentally and passim — also explains some of the institutional arrangements and instruments which characterise French water policy and water resources management.
In this two part article a short introduction deals with some of the basic principles of the Proposal for a Water Act. The next four sections deal with the four chapters of the Proposal which merit attention. In this first part first, the author investigates some general elements of decentralisation and planning, second, deals with the concept of “services publics” for the provision of water and waste water treatment; and third, looks at the reform of institutions, in particular of the agences de l'eau.European Energy and Environmental Law Review