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Press release: EWP welcomes the clear rationale of the Blueprint

Nov 26th, 2012 |

Brussels, 26 November 2012. Today, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, presented the ‘Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources’ on the occasion of the EU Water Blueprint conference in Nicosia, Cyprus (Speech/12/861). The Commission launched the Blueprint on the 14th of November 2012 as a strategy to ensure that a sufficient quantity of good quality water is available to meet the needs of people, the economy and the environment.

EWP very much welcomes the Communication and the overview of the current situation and its recommendations for future legal implementation and activities of the EU. However, EWP also sees the need for more ambition in the EU’s policy and future action in order to address Europe’s water problems adequately.

EWP fully recognizes the progress on water management in Europe since the adoption of the EU Water Framework Directive. However, the assessment of the Commission on the level of implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive by the Member States is still worrying, particularly given that only 47% of EU water bodies are estimated to reach good ecological status by 2015. EWP very much welcomes that the Commission has come up with a very concrete set of measures based on a sound analysis of the policy and in its implementation and in particular:

  • New guidance on ecological flow, calculation of cost recovery which incorporates ecosystem services, water trading and natural green infrastructure;
  • The existence of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) and pricing policies as a precondition to receive finance from European funds;
  • New legislation on water reuse and measures to include water in the Ecodesign Directive;
  • The Commission’s commitment to use 20% of the EU budget on climate mainstreaming for water adaptation measures;
  • The further development of the Water Information System for Europe and the hydro-economic model for Europe as well as a legislative initiative for inspections and surveillance aimed to improve how Member States detect problems of non-compliance on the ground.

The EWP strongly supports the action to establish water accounts at River Basin level – given the fact that these accounts are linked to the environmental flows in each River Basin. EWP hopes that these activities will lead to suitable water allocation and will take one step closer to achieving the objectives of the RBMP.

However, EWP thinks that guidance in this area which is not legally binding is not enough. EWP therefore requests the Commission to consider a new Directive which covers demand management in a holistic way. This should cover accounting, allocation and trading rules along with clear obligations for reuse/recycling and for ecological flow.

EWP is also concerned that the Blueprint does not address major land use changes such as the cutting down of the boreal forests in Russia which will have large trans-European effects on the water cycle and has the potential to jeopardize all efforts in European water policy of the last decades.

EWP very strongly encourages the Commission to address integration of water policy in other policy areas and to address the inconsistencies in Europe’s policies which threaten the achievements of EU water legislation in areas such as agriculture and energy policy and that the EU really starts seriously to address harmful environmental subsidies.

EWP welcomes that the Blueprint addresses the international dimension but this part lacks concrete proposals for action such as the future role of the EU Water Initiative and the ratification by the EU of the UN Water Courses Convention (1997).

EWP experts strongly support the awareness-raising tools planned in the Blueprint including: communication campaigns, certifications schemes giving water users incentives to make sustainable choices. In this respect EWP is convinced that the European Water Stewardship scheme developed by EWP with a larger stakeholder group can significantly contribute to make European water management much more sustainable.

EWP also recommends an initiative on water awareness – assuring that a wider range of civil society and other stakeholders can collaborate in policy implementation, in addressing water consumption patterns and pollution, the use of consumer and agricultural products and in changing production and consumption patterns with effects on water quantity and quality.

For more information, please contact Lisa Strübbe at l.struebbe@ewp.eu.





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