European Commission and the European Parliament Plan to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources
On World Water Day (22nd March) this year the European Commission released the results of a survey, conducted between 5th and 7th March 2012, which was published in the Eurobarometer on Water. For the survey, carried out in all 27 Member States of the European Union (EU), 25524 respondents, from different social and demographic groups were interviewed in their mother tongue on behalf of the European Commission.The survey found that 68% of the sample questioned thought that water related problems, such as droughts, floods and chemical pollution, were serious and were seen as significant challenges to the EU. 62% of those questioned also felt they were not sufficiently informed, while 67% thought the most effective means of reducing water-related problems would be awareness-raising about such issues. When asked the respondents thought that heavier fines for polluters, a fairer pricing policy or financial incentives (tax breaks or subsidies) were a good idea. With this in mind 73% of those questioned called for more measures to be implemented at EU-level as a means of reducing water problems.
On World Water day Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, said, "The European Union has been working for years to improve water quality, and we have results to show for it – the quality of drinking water and bathing water is much better than it was, and many more towns and cities have proper treatment of their waste water. Species like salmon have reappeared in a number of European rivers where they were no longer found. This shows that working together throughout Europe can bring real results. But droughts and floods are becoming more common, and Europe's waters are under increasing pressure from challenges such as pollution and climate change. Citizens realise this and they are asking the EU to respond. These results are an important input to the coming Blueprint to Safeguard European Waters." (IP/12/289)
Prior to the release of the Eurobarometer on Water, Janez Potocnik had attended The 6th World Water Forum, held in Marseille (12th to 17th March) where he had addressed ministerial delegations from more than 100 countries and endorsed a Ministerial Declaration on Water on behalf of the EU. At the time he said, "I trust today's Declaration will be used by all parties to convey this message at the Rio +20 Conference, which will be an excellent opportunity to put water on top of national and international agendas. The Declaration supports EU objectives for water, green economy, the implementation of the Rio Conventions, improved governance and international cooperation. I am pleased to see the focus on integrated river basin management, the need to mainstream water policy objectives into other policy areas, and the importance of taking full account of the interconnected challenges that affect the food, water and energy sectors. The Declaration also underlines the importance of addressing water problems through development cooperation policy, and its support to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is especially welcome." (MEMO/12/181)
The European Commission, which are required under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Directive 2000/60/EC) to submit a mid-term implementation report by 22nd December 2012, will now take the issues raised into account as part of their "Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources" initiative. However, although Richard Seeber MEP was broadly in favour of the Commission’s plans he thought that the European Parliament should have more input into the process believing that the most effective way of achieving success is to focus on the implementation of the legislation, as set out in the Blueprint. It is for this reason that he drafted the own initiate report, “Implementation of EU water legislation, ahead of a necessary overall approach to European water challenges (2011/2297(INI))” which was recently adopted by the EP.
The Legislative Report can be read here
Last Updated (Tuesday, 11 September 2012 10:06)