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News Tackling European Water Scarcity

A new European Commission (EC) report on the EU's strategy to tackle water scarcity and drought states that greater efforts on pricing and efficiency are needed to reverse theover-exploitation of Europe's limited water resources.

Despite more rainfall in southern European countries in 2009 than in previous years, the report warns that greater efforts are still needed to stop and reverse the mistreatment of Europe's finite water resources.An effective water pricing policy,water efficiency and water saving measures are essential to ensure thatEurope has enough good quality water to meet the needs of users and to face the challenges of a changing climate,it concludes.

The EC carried out in-depth assessments of water scarcityand droughtin the EU in 2006 and early 2007. Following this the EC presented a setof policyoptions to increase water savings in 2007, and highlighted the need to improve the financing of water efficiency within the framework of existing sector policies.

This second follow-up report notes that an effective water pricing policyand water-saving measures are essential to ensure that Europe has enough quality water to meet societal needs and face the challenge of climatechange. The report also warns that some member states have begun to suffer ‘permanent scarcityacross the whole country'. The pressure point is currently in the south(with Cyprus experiencing the most severe water shortages) but the EC expects water stress to spread to southeast and central Europe. The progress paper found that the problem was not limited to Mediterranean countries - the Czech Republic has reported areas suffering frequent water scarcityand France and Belgium have reported over-exploited aquifers.

The Water Framework Directive requires member states to introduce water-pricing policies with incentives for efficient water use, but little progress has been made so far according to the report. The EC also reported its concerns about delays in implementing the Water Framework Directive in member states most affected by water scarcity.The deadline for submitting national plans for managing river basins was March 2010 but, in some countries, consultations on the plans have not even begun.


EU EnvironmentCommissioner Janez Potočnik said that the report highlights the importance of ‘integrating water policyinto wider policygoals' at EU and national level. The EC is launching a number of preparatory activities ahead of a water scarcityand droughtpolicyreview in 2012. It notes that in 2010 the focus will be on efficiency, savings in domestic water use, the potential for savings in buildings, leakage reduction and water efficiency in agriculture.

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information Waterlink International
Keyword(s) EU-WFD, climate, water scarcity, water pricing policies, water saving
Geographical coverage Europe
News date 03/06/2010
Working language(s) ENGLISH