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If you have any questions about European water policy or if you have any ideas on how to improve this site, please send us an email to the "Water Mailbox" of Environment Directorate-General. This website is, so far, only available in English.
Water is life ! It is a precondition for human, animal and plant life as well as an indispensable resource for the economy. Water also plays a fundamental role in the climate regulation cycle.Protection of water resources, of fresh and salt water ecosystems and of the water we drink and bathe in is therefore one of the cornerstones of environmental protection in Europe. The stakes are high, the issues transcend national boundaries, and concerted action at the level of the EU is necessary to ensure effective protection.
The Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources is the EU policy response to old and emerging challenges on our water resources. It aims at ensuring good quality water in sufficient quantities for all legitimate uses. Its three pillars are :
The Blueprint Communication
The 3rd Implementation Report on the Water Framework Directive - River Basin Management Plans
A review of the Strategy on Water Scarcity and Droughts
It is also based on an evaluation of the implementation and achievements of the current EU water policy, including a Fitness Check of EU water policy in the framework of the Commission Smart Regulation approach. The European Innovation Partnership is a key building block.
The European Commission has launched a European Innovation Partnership on Water with the aim to support and facilitate the development of innovative solutions to water related challenges and to create market opportunities by doing so.
The EIP on Water will bring together all relevant stakeholders to identify the priority areas for action, to identify barriers to innovation and to propose solutions to break down these barriers. The EIP on Water will take a problem oriented approach and will make use of the various existing European, national and regional initiatives.
For more information about the EIP on Water, please look at our dedicated website.
The 1st River Basin Management Plans should have been available for all River Basin Districts across the EU by 22.12.2009. The Commission has now assessed the plans reported. Read more here about the 3rd WFD Implementation report, which covers those River Basin Management Plans.
There are still serious delays in the adoption of plans in a handful of EU Member States. Consultations are now also starting on the second cycle River Basin Management Plans (2015-2021). A six-month consultation on the work programme for developing the 2nd RBMPs should start at the latest on 22.12.2012. The preparation of the 1st Flood Risk Management Plans must be coordinated appropriately with this WFD process. Read more here about consultations on the draft 2nd River Basin Management Plans.
While Europe is largely considered as having adequate water resources, water scarcity and drought is an increasingly frequent and widespread phenomenon in the European Union.
The main overall objective of EU water policy is to ensure access to good quality water in sufficient quantity for all Europeans, and to ensure the good status of all water bodies across Europe.
Read more about EU action on water scarcity and drought.
EU Member States are obliged to carry out a preliminary assessment of flood risk to identify areas of potential flood risk, to establish and publish flood hazard and risk maps and to develop and implement Flood Risk Management Plans to reduce flood risk.
Read more about the EU Floods Directive.
On 30 November 2009, Water Directors of EU Member States issued a guidance document on adaptation to climate change in water management. The document is the first result of numerous actions included in the European Commission White Paper Adapting to climate change; Towards a European framework for action. The document includes guidance on how to take climate change into account in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, the Floods Directive and the Strategy on Water Scarcity and Droughts.Download "River basin management in a changing climate - a Guidance document" (pdf ~2,1MB)
Read more in the 12 Water Notes dealing with different topics from international coordination to public participation, via chemical pollution, groundwater, floods and intercalibration… as well as links with other legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and EU legislation on drinking and bathing water !
Since 2001 a Common Implementation Strategy has been in operation, bringing together national experts, stakeholders and the Commission involved first in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, and later also the Floods Directive. Read more about the outcomes of this process, such as guidance documents produced and key events in Thematic CIS information sheets.
Other available documents are:
Printed copies of our publications can be ordered through the EU Bookshop (bookshop.europa.eu).