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Lawmakers join forces to 'waterproof' EU policies
A newly-established Water Intergroup in the European Parliament has started to help MEPs consider EU water policies more horizontally, as the European Commission prepares to put its water strategies in line with climate and resource-efficiency policies.
"Adaptation to climate change, risks of flooding and water scarcity will be on the agenda, as well as the influence of product design and different production processes," said the new group's chairman, MEP Richard Seeber opening its first meeting yesterday on Wednesday.
The group's monthly meetings are also expected to address "the security of infrastructures, the necessity of ensuring technological leadership by the European water industry and the relationship between water, health and biodiversity," he continued.
The informal MEP and stakeholder group was set up with the support of Eureau, the European federation of national drinking and waste water operators, which will also manage the intergroup's secretariat.
At their inaugural meeting, stakeholders suggested that the group should also address better implementation of existing water legislation, in particular pricing requirements and chemicals management. They also called for Europe's water technologies and knowledge to be integrated into EU development policy and the global governance of water.
Peter Gammeltoft, head of the Commission's water unit, said the EU executive has three water reviews on the agenda for Jos� Manuel Barroso's second term.
First, the EU executive will assess the implementation of the EU's Water Framework Directive. National River Basin Management Plans, which had to be submitted by member states in December 2009, will be closely scrutinised. The EU executive will verify whether member states have introduced national pricing policies and water-saving measures, and whether water policy has been integrated into other policies, like agriculture. All these obligations stem from the WFD.
Regarding the pricing obligation, which became effective at the beginning of the year, Gammeltoft said he suspected that "member states are not as far as they should be".
Secondly, the Commission is to table a policy review on water scarcity and drought in 2012. Its main focus will be water efficiency, and it will consider whether we are doing enough to manage demand.
The third review, which Peter Gammeltoft called the "climate review," will be undertaken at some point during Jos� Manuel Barroso's mandate and will cover all other EU water policies and measures from a climate change point of view.
Peter Gammeltoft stressed that there are significant overlaps between the three reviews and important interlinkages between water and other EU policies. "Water is a lot more than drinking and waste water," he insisted, referring to inland navigation, industry, biodiversity, tourism and agriculture.
"We will have to assess all policies. We cannot prepare an EU climate change policy if we don't check how changes in water cycles will affect different sectors," he added, saying talks on EU farm policy reform do not make sense without considering the link between food security and the availability of water.
29th January 2010