Implementation of EU's flagship water directive 'slow and uneven'

EU capitals need to take more than a 'business as usual' approach to managing water resources, argues Giovanni La Via.

By Giovanni La Via

27 Mar 2015

Water is essential for life and sustainably managing water is a vital and a necessary condition for the provision of essential services linked to our food security and safety, our health, our society and our economy.

This is why water challenges are very close to the hearts of citizens across the European Union. In fact, the right to water was the subject of the first successful European citizens' initiative, signed by almost 1.9 million people.

We are now drawing up a resolution to follow up on this citizens' initiative, following a very successful public hearing on water challenges organised by the European parliament's environment committee, which I have the honour of chairing.

I firmly believe that 2015 can be a uniquely important year in framing the future ambition of water policy.

"I firmly believe that 2015 can be a uniquely important year in framing the future ambition of water policy"

This is the year, which according to the water framework directive, Europe's water resources should have reached a good status while on the other hand, 2015 is also the year when the world will gather in Paris, for the COP 21 conference, with the goal of delivering an ambitious, legally binding global climate agreement.

Such an agreement would certainly shape the future of our vulnerable water resources.

The water framework directive constitutes a solid and ambitious legislative base for water management across the EU, and we should be proud of this. However, unfortunately the rate of implementation of the directive has been slow and uneven across Europe.

"The water framework directive constitutes a solid and ambitious legislative base for water management across the EU, and we should be proud of this. However, unfortunately the rate of implementation of the directive has been slow and uneven across Europe"

Even where progress has been made, member states need to go beyond the 'business as usual' approach and should really design the most appropriate and cost-effective measures to ensure that their water resources achieve good status as quickly as possible. This has to be a top priority.

The parliament is also committed to the strengthening of public awareness and education among citizens, health operators and policymakers in bringing about a better understanding of the links between water, ecosystems, sanitation, hygiene, health, food safety, food security and disaster prevention.

Our final goal, as EU policymakers, is to make sure that we manage this essential public good in a truly sustainable way, by ensuring that sufficient quantities of clean water are available for our environment, economy and for our future.

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