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Water Scarcity & Droughts in the European Union

Other instruments

There are other instruments to deal with water scarcity and drought such as water pricing, green public procurement, voluntary agreements, community funding, etc. Related information is available in the Water Framework Directive website.

Funding opportunities

There are several funding opportunities administered by various DGs to help EU Member States address water management issues and risk prevention in the field of agriculture, infrastructure, and environment. These include:

  • Rural Development Policy (DG AGRI)
  • Structural and Cohestion Funds (DG REGIO)
  • LIFE+ Funds (DG ENV)

Rural Development Regulation (DG AGRI)

The Rural Development Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005) is the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy. It aims to place agriculture in a broader context, which also takes into account the protection of the environment, the quality of produced food, and the attractiveness of rural areas to new farmers and new residents.

The RDR is co-financed between the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Member States.

The RDR has several objectives, and the improvement and protection of the environment is only one out of several. Member States have the flexibility to select the most appropriate measures to address the specific needs of their territory and decide (up to a certain amount) how to spend their budgets among the four axes.

The various policy measures are organised into three axes with each axis targeting one of the three main domains of intervention and a fourth axis called LEADER.

The three domains are:

  • farm modernisation
  • environmental improvement, and
  • improvement of the quality of rural areas

Then, a framework of around 37 measures can be used for protecting and enhancing water resources in agriculture.

The main measures are:

  • training of farmers,
  • modernisation of agricultural holdings (improvement of water efficiency),
  • agri-environmental measures (RDR article 39), which are optional for farmers (crop rotation, catch crops, improved management of the pesticides,…).
  • mandatory measures provided for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) implementation (RDR Article 38).

Rural Development Policy 2007- 2013:

Structural and Cohestion Funds (DG REGIO)

Structural and cohesion funds provide some means to co-finance capital-intensive investments in water infrastructure and help EU Member States comply with water legislation.

The whole Cohesion Policy Fund amounts to €344 billion for the period 2007 - 2013, of which the majority (€282 billion) is allocated to Convergence funding for those regions of the EU whose gross national product (GNP) per capita is below 90% of the EU-average. There are three different categories of funding covered that relate to water efficiency: 'Risk prevention', 'Other measures to preserve the environment and prevent risks', and 'Management and distribution of drinking water'.

  1. Management of water resources
  • For: reducing leakage rates, connecting to water supply, additional supply and improving infrastructure
  • €8 billion total funding
  1. Prevention of disaster
    • €7 billion available
  1. Responding to disaster with the EU Solidarity Fund
  • The Solidarity Fund (EUSF) provides money for disaster relief in MS
  • The EUSF has provided money once so far for a catastrophic drought event in Cyprus in 2008,although the aim is to use this fund only as a last resort and to avert droughts through proper management and risk prevention measures.
  • Around €1 billion are allocated each year
  • per-country cap on the amount of funding that can be given (proportional to population)

For more information on Cohesion funds:

Life+ Funds (DG ENV)

  • Administered by DG ENV to support environmental & nature conservation projects throughout EU
    • €1.7 billion available through 2007-2013
    • Water theme: to support the implementation of EU water policy, also to raise awareness
    • Call is open for public bodies and NGOs
    • Smaller projects receive €1 million on average
    • Can cover up to 75% of project costs

For further information on Life + funds: