1. Introduction

The European Topic Centre on Inland Waters (ETC/IW) was appointed in December 1994 by the European Environment Agency (EEA) to act as a centre of expertise for use by the Agency and to undertake part of the EEA’s multi-annual work programme. The key Task of the first year’s programme was to design a freshwater monitoring network for the EEA area. This report describes the need and use of such a network and explains why existing sources of monitoring information are not adequate to meet the EEA’s needs. The benefit and value to Member States in contributing national monitoring information to this network are also described. The basic concept of the network is outlined; more detailed technical descriptions and justification of the proposal are given in other reports (e.g. Nixon et al 1996). The proposal has been peer reviewed by the EEA’s National Focal Points and was presented at a workshop in Madrid in June 1996 (Rees.Y et al 1996). It was agreed at the workshop that the network should be progressively implemented across Europe and the way forward to achieving that goal is also described in the report.

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