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Water Blueprint Action Plan


The European Commission has launched Water Blueprint, a plan of action to protect the resources of water in Europe. With this strategy, the EC wants to assure that citizens, the economy and the environment have good quality water to meet their needs.

Water Blueprint is made up by a set of tools that Member States can implement to improve the management of water in different river basins, which are based on the innovation on the water agreement released in May of 2012.

The quality and quantity of available water are two sides of the same coin, depending on one another. And in spite of the advances of recent years, the quality of water in the European Union must be improved. All Europe is aware of existing problems such as (i) pollution, (ii) changes in water masses and (iii) water scarcity due to droughts, and also on its opposite, floods, that are becoming a familiar part of a disastrous landscape.

European Union water legislation must be implemented to the largest extent possible in order to cope with current challenges, such as the extraction of water for agriculture and energy production, specific land uses and the impact of climate change.

During the presentation of the Water Blueprint, Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for environment, highlighted the need to achieve a sustainable balance between the demand and the supply of water, taking into account the needs of both people and the natural ecosystems on which they depend.

Spain: slow progress in water management efficiency.

Rainfall in Spain has fallen by five percent in the past 20 years. Between 2004 and 2008, Spain suffered the worst drought period since rain records are kept. A dry climate and lack of understanding between the various Spanish regions on the key aspects of water management have resulted in a general shortage of this essential resource. However, this is not a problem affecting only Spain, since the country shares six river basins with France and Portugal, a fact that reinforces the need for a coordinated European water policy.

The availability of water is crucial to the development of economic activities in Spain, but so far, efforts have been directed mainly to increase the supply, rather than reducing consumption and  improving  efficiency. The strong Spanish tradition of subsidizing the use of water, (plus the impact of historic claims on it), have not contributed towards an efficient use of water. The European Commission recommends that policies relating to the price of water must encourage all consumers and economic sectors to use resources in a more efficient and rationale way, European legislation is not strict in this regard and Member States can take into account social and economic effects arising from the recovery of these costs.

While European water legislation is already more than one decade old, and although the existence of a 2009 deadline, the majority of Water Management Plans existing in the different Basins have not been properly implemented, thus causing delays in achieving a complete reception of the European Water Framework Directive. Water Blueprint, can be a useful tool to ensure the supply of quality water for all reasonable purposes.

A strategy for action

To achieve the objectives set by the Water Framework Directive (the standard for the protection and the regeneration of the water in Europe)  Water Blueprint proposes a strategic approach based on three levels:

First, improving the implementation of the current water policies of the EU with the exploitation of the opportunities offered by the current legal framework.

Second, increasing the integration of water policy in other relevant areas as agriculture, fisheries, renewable energy, transportation, as well as the structural funds and cohesion fund.

And finally, eliminating gaps in the current framework, especially in relation to those tools necessary to increase efficiency in the use of water. In this regard, Water Blueprint foresees that Member States establish water accounts and efficiency goals.

The time horizon of this Action Plan is closely linked to the EU 2020 strategy; in particular, with regard to the route sheet of the Resource Efficiency of 2011, of which the Blueprint is a cornerstone. However, the horizon of the water Blue print is further on, in 2050.//


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