Task groups
This report presents the findings of the task group addressing Descriptor 5 with the aim of establishing the criteria and methodological standards that Member States would need to assess the state of their marine and coastal waters and to achieve Good Environmental Status with regard to eutrophication.
In-depth assessment
List of key issues derived from the JRC in-depth assessment of the Member States' submissions for MSFD articles 8, 9 and 10 on eutrophication.

Issues on implementation


Potential actions/actors

Limited integration with WFD.

Consideration of WFD elements (classification, assessment methods, thresholds, etc.) for coastal waters in MSFD definition of GES and Targets. Coherence between coastal and offshore boundaries. Integration with RSC. Results coming from the on-going intercalibration exercise should be integrated in the next phase of MSFD.

EU-wide  assessment tools; strengthen the links between WFD and MSFD/ MS, RSC, EU

No integration with other European Law (e.g. ND, UWWTD)

Increasing incorporation of  ND and UWWT tools could support utilization of pressure base targets

Revaluate the Targets reported by the MS (art. 10)/MS,  RSC and EU

Low integration between MSFD and RSC

Active involvement of the RSC or the MS on regional level in the establishment of coherent and comparable limits with WFD and RSC. Development of an agreement on a minimum common set of indicators and related methodologies.

Links between MSFD-RSC / MS & RSC

Issues on methods


Potential actions/actors

Heterogeneity of methodological approaches, thresholds and limits

Common agreed and comparable methodological standards on an EU-wide level.


Different indicators reported per criterion

Core set of indicators to ensure the minimum level of coherence

JRC led network of experts/ recommendations for COM Decision revision

Spatial inconsistency within and between MS regarding coastal-offshore distinction or number of subregions reported. Differences in dataset spatial scales

Assessment of both coastal and offshore water with clear boundaries and thresholds. Synergies in the definition of scales, possible with common monitoring programmes

MS plus assessment scales guidance

Issues on reporting


Potential actions/actors

Differences between MS' paper reports and reporting sheets; missing or not adequately reported information; similar information is reported under different fields; Different level of detail in the reported information

Reporting sheets should reflect the MS'paper reports, since they consist an electronic way of reporting the qualitative and quantitative data and not an independent one. The required information in the reporting sheets could be significantly reduced and the process could be automated by using drop-down boxes with specific option

Updated guidance on reporting with reduced and more specific fields/ ENV

Differences in MS reports regarding the implementation across Articles, the use of pressures and impact in them and their link with criteria and indicators.

Clear links in between pressures and impacts (Annex III, Table 2 of MSFD) and criteria and indicators (COM DEC 2010/477/EU) and thereafter between Art. 8, 9 and 10, taking into account the connection with Table 1 in Annex III of MSFD.

JRC led network of experts/ COM Decision revision

Improving the efficiency and homogeneity of reporting spreadsheets; improve data access and data management for the MS evaluation of MSFD implementation (Art. 12)

Coherence in reporting to allow for an accurate and meaningful IDA

Improve reporting sheets quality, data & metadata availability / MS & ENV

Review of the commission decision 2010/477/EU
The review has been carried out by the EC JRC together with experts nominated by EU Member States, and has considered contributions from the GES Working Group in accordance with the roadmap set out in the MSFD implementation strategy (agreed on at the 11th CIS MSCG meeting). The associated report represents the result of the scientific and technical review of Commission Decision 2010/477/EU in relation to Descriptor 5.
WFD-MSFD interactions
The main issues addressed in the guidance document are a unified conceptual framework to understand eutrophication in all water categories, a conceptual read across EU directives and international policies. The guidance also includes an overview of current assessment methods and recommendations for harmonization of classification criteria.
Objectives of the workshop:
  • Compare nutrient boundaries used by member states to support WFD Good Ecological Status and MSFD Good Environmental Status
  • Assess methodology to set nutrient boundaries according to pressure-response relationships.
The report summarizes the results of an investigation conducted at the member states level on the boundaries for nutrients, methods to define these boundaries and reference conditions, and use of nutrient classification in the assessment of ecological status (WFD) / eutrophication status (MSFD).