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Water & Marine

Clean water is a priceless resource which cannot be taken for granted, and access to clean water is essential. Human activities have a huge influence on water quality and quantity, so the EU has put in place a range of legislative measures to ensure that drinking water, bathing water; surface waters and groundwater across Europe reach a high level of cleanliness. Other measures limit pollution from urban waste water, nitrate pollution from agriculture and dangerous chemicals. Central to achieving these goals is the Water Framework directive, adopted in 2000 and now being progressively implemented by Member States. It takes an integrated approach to water management at the level of a whole river basin and requires international cooperation in shared waters. In 2007 a directive on flood risk assessment and management was also adopted. Water scarcity and droughts are also of increasing importance, especially in view of climate change.

In 2012 the European Commission adopted the Water Blueprint strategy for the protection of water resources. The Blueprint is a new EU strategy on the use of water resources and sets the agenda for EU action for the years to come. The objective of the Blueprint is to make water use sustainable in the EU, ensuring good quality water for human needs, economic activities and the environment.

The Water Blueprint is supported by the European Innovation Partnership on Water which was launched in May 2012  with the objective of speeding up innovations that contribute to solve societal challenges, enhance Europe's competitiveness and contribute to job creation and economic growth.

As for marine ecosystems, they are not only a major source of biodiversity, but also the resource base that underpins the economic prosperity of many coastal regions and thus millions of jobs. Vital to our health and economy, oceans and seas are also a growing source of renewable energies. However, the fragile balance of marine environments is also facing many threats like pollution, overfishing and climate change. The European Union is determined to take every step necessary to achieve a healthy marine environment in all European marine waters by 2020 at the latest. This is the commitment undertaken in 2008 in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.