EDA-EMERGE aims to train a new generation of young scientists in the interdisciplinary techniques required to meet the major challenges in the monitoring, assessment and management of toxic pollution in European river basins considering the enormous complexity of contamination, effects and cause-effect relationships. By integrating innovative mode-of-action based biodiagnostic tools including in vitro tests, transgenic organisms and “omics” techniques with powerful fractionation and cutting edge analytical and computational structure elucidation tools, a new generation of effect directed analysis (EDA) approaches will be developed for the identification of toxicants in European surface and drinking waters. Innovative method development by young researchers at major universities, research centres and private companies will be closely interlinked with a joint European demonstration program and higher tier EDA and extensive training courses. EDA-EMERGE ESRs will learn to organise and run international and interdisciplinary sampling and monitoring campaigns and benefit from the expertise of one of the most experienced private companies in this field. Strong networking between academia, the private sector and leading regulators in the field of river basin management and pollution management ensures the relevance of the research for practice and excellent employment opportunities for EDA-EMERGE ESRs. The combination of cutting edge science with training in multiple complementary (soft) skills offered with a strong emphasis on commercial exploitation and media competence will further enhance employability of well-trained ESRs not only in research and academia but far beyond. An internationally composed advisory board will introduce new perspectives of monitoring, assessment and management of emerging pollutants within and outside of Europe.