EU Floods Directive
Directive 2007/60/EC on the assessment and management of flood risks entered into force on 26 November 2007. This Directive now requires Member States to assess if all water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding, to map the flood extent and assets and humans at risk in these areas and to take adequate and coordinated measures to reduce this flood risk. With this Directive also reinforces the rights of the public to access this information and to have a say in the planning process.
The Directive was proposed by the European Commission on 18/01/2006, and was finally published in the Official Journal on 6 November 2007. Its aim is to reduce and manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity. The Directive requires Member States to first carry out a preliminary assessment by 2011 to identify the river basins and associated coastal areas at risk of flooding. For such zones they would then need to draw up flood risk maps by 2013 and establish flood risk management plans focused on prevention, protection and preparedness by 2015. The Directive applies to inland waters as well as all coastal waters across the whole territory of the EU.
The Directive shall be carried out in coordination with the Water Framework Directive, notably by flood risk management plans and river basin management plans being coordinated, and through coordination of the public participation procedures in the preparation of these plans. All assessments, maps and plans prepared shall be made available to the public.
Member States shall furthermore coordinate their flood risk management practices in shared river basins, including with third counties, and shall in solidarity not undertake measures that would increase the flood risk in neighbouring countries. Member States shall in take into consideration long term developments, including climate change, as well as sustainable land use practices in the flood risk management cycle addressed in this Directive.
Between 1998 and 2004, Europe suffered over 100 major damaging floods, including the catastrophic floods along the Danube and Elbe rivers in summer 2002. Severe floods in 2005 further reinforced the need for concerted action. Since 1998 floods in Europe have caused some 700 deaths, the displacement of about half a million people and at least €25 billion in insured economic losses.
Catastrophic floods endanger lives and cause human tragedy as well as heavy economic losses. Floods are natural phenomena but through the right measures we can reduce their likelihood and limit their impacts. In addition to economic and social damage, floods can have severe environmental consequences, for example when installations holding large quantities of toxic chemicals are inundated or wetland areas destroyed. The coming decades are likely to see a higher flood risk in Europe and greater economic damage.
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