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The European Environment Agency has improved a methodology for assessing the quality of river water and to relate the assessment to evaluating the environmental effects of water-related EU environment policy (e.g. Nitrate Directive, Urban Waste Water Directive). This report offers experts both a tool to assess changes at water basins as well as an early warning system for water status change. It was tested and validated with comprehensive data provided by France, covering the period 1971-2005, prior to a large-scale application at the European level depending on data availability.