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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.
Since 2001 a Common Implementation Strategy has been in operation, bringing together national experts, stakeholders and the Commission, initially in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, and later also in the implementation of the Floods Directive. Learn more about the outcomes of this process through the Guidance Documents produced.
In addition, the following publications are available:
The Water Framework Directive covers inland, transitional and coastal surface waters as well as groundwaters.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive addresses coastal and marine waters.
The WFD requires the Member States to prepare River Basin Management Plans including Programmes of Measures for each River Basin District, including for international river basins. In most EU Member States currently the 3rd RBMPs are open for public consultation. An overview of the URLs communicated by Member States to the European Commission can be found here.
To speed up the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, water concerns must be better taken into account in other EU policies and funding mechanisms (a recommendation following the Blueprint in 2012). This will help reach the Directive's objectives of good water status. The European Commission is working closely with Member States and stakeholders to achieve better integration of the Water Framework Directive with other EU policies.
Operational and rural development programmes for 2014-2020 have been assessed to measure their contribution towards EU water policy. By highlighting progress so far, the resulting reports can help improve future integration:
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.
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.
The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.