Intercalibration for EU Water Framework Directive | JPI OCEANS

Intercalibration for EU Water Framework Directive

Joint Action Facts
Action period: March 2014
Funding: € 279,560
Strategic area:
  • Interdisciplinary Research for Good Environmental Status
  • Observing, modelling and predicting ocean state and processes
Type of action:
  • Joint public procurement
Lead countries:
  • Belgium
More Information
Secretariat Contact:

Willem De Moor 
Phone: +32 (0)2 626 16 63



The action Joint funding of the Scientific Intercalibration exercise for the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) coastal and transitional waters in the North-East Atlantic brings together scientific experts to perform required analyses in the most cost-efficient way.


The JPI Oceans action will add value by:
  • finding experienced scientific expert leads to perform required analyses in the most cost-efficient way for phytoplankton and benthic invertebrate fauna (as there are constraints in the availability of experts of national environmental authorities)
  • reducing fragmentation (of comparison calculation efforts) and increase efficiency in relation to the Water (and Marine Strategy) Framework Directive;
  • increasing experience with joint data collection and analysis;
  • testing a mechanism for joint funding from environmental authorities of nine member countries, surpassing the traditional model of joint calls, to obtain the performance improvements.


Ten environmental authorities of nine countries (BE, DE, DK, FR, IE, NL, NO, SE, UK) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and committed budgets to the pilot action. The Portuguese environmental authority will contributes in-kind with 2 expert leads from Portuguese universities.
After consultation of the environmental authorities and scientific institutions of JPI Oceans a list of 21 eligible candidates was composed. From the list four experts were selected through a selection procedure. Upon agreement by the environmental authorities, the same expert leads (Michelle Devlin, Iñigo Muxika and Gert Van Hoey) are contracted for the work to be performed for the second MoU in 2015 - 2016. An additional selection procedure has been organised in 2015 to contract experienced scientific experts that will perform and focus on regional analyses for phytoplankton coastal waters (North Sea and Wadden Sea). 


The intercalibration action will enable a long-term dialogue between environmental authorities and the scientific community of member countries to solve remaining scientific challenges jointly. Furthermore, as comparable environmental assessments are of crucial importance for industry, research on scientifically sound and comparable environmental assessment can be a competitive advantage for Europe.


The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) was adopted in 2000, the purpose being establishment of a framework for protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. The overall aim for these surface and groundwater ‘water bodies’ is to achieve good chemical and ecological status by 2015.
The essence of intercalibration is to ensure that the definition of ecological status in member countries’ assessment methods for biological quality corresponds to comparable levels of ecosystem alteration. Comparable environmental assessments are of crucial importance for industry to receive equal treatment on environmental sustainability criteria at the European internal market, instead of heterogeneous assessment levels and protection measures.
Significant gaps still exist despite two phases of intercalibration for coastal and transitional waters. A review concluded that a degree of unevenness in the results of intercalibration across Europe reflects differences in the degree to which nations have been politically willing, and/or economically able, to prioritise basic and applied aquatic research and invest in water resource management.*
In the past, the expert leads that performed intercalibration comparisons were provided by in-kind contributions of a few member countries. This loaded specific member countries with a lot of responsibility on complex analytical problems, due to the complexity of the analyses and the nature of coastal and transitional waters, without organisational support in performing the required analyses in a cost-efficient way.

JPI Oceans   •   Rue du Trône 130, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel. +32 (0)2 626 16 60   •   Fax: +32 (0)2 626 16 61   •
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