1.1 Aims of this report

This report builds on the EEA assessment of 2018 of the status and pressures of European waters  (EEA, 2018)[1]. In its 2018 assessment, the EEA concluded that European waters remained under significant pressures linked to changes in their hydromorphology, pressures from diffuse and point sources of pollution and water abstraction and that limited progress was noted in improving water status from the first to the second planning cycle of the WFD. The pressures on European waters often act at the same time and affect the good functioning of ecosystems, contribute to biodiversity loss and threaten the valuable benefits that water brings to society and the economy. However, no detailed presentation of the main drivers and pressures causing less than good status of EU water bodies was made in the 2018 EEA assessment. The present report takes the 2018 presentation of water status and pressures one step further and aims at giving a European overview of the main drivers and pressures that are at the core of key water management challenges at European level.

[1] EEA, 2018, European waters – assessment of status and pressures 2018.

The key water management challenges identified in this report are a structured presentation of EU-level evidence on the main drivers and pressures that put European water bodies most at risk of achieving the WFD environmental objectives. The presentation of these European key water management challenges aims at improving our understanding of the main sources and sectoral activities behind key pressures and the main associated impacts. In addition, a summary is provided of key measures which are available to tackle these challenges across the majority of European countries and of management issues of EU-wide relevance.

Identifying the pressures and drivers of key water management challenges at European level can help in shaping priorities of the main issues that should be tackled with measures especially in the River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) under the WFD (Figure 1). The identification of European key water management challenges can also support later assessments of the upcoming third RBMPs, especially in terms of whether efforts and resources in the third cycle are being directed to addressing the most challenging issues.

comments (0)

Figure 1             European key water management challenges

comments (0)

Based on the analysis of significant pressures and drivers affecting water bodies in the latest (second) RBMPs, the following European key water management challenges have been selected for presentation in this report:

  • Pollution pressures – includes point source pollution, diffuse source pollution including scattered dwellings and pollution pressures from mining,
  • Hydromorphological pressures – includes issues related to barriers, loss of lateral connectivity, pressures from hydropower and pressures from inland navigation,
  • Abstractions and water scarcity,
  • Aquaculture, and
  • Invasive alien species.

European key water management challenges were selected that affect a sufficiently large share of European water bodies and that were long time important enough to develop a rather solid basis of knowledge and information to describe the scope of the issue at European level (see section 3 for more information).

This EEA report also discusses cross-cutting issues of EU-wide relevance to measures implementation for addressing the main drivers and pressures of European key water management challenges. These cross-cutting issues are discussed with emphasis on their role in improving and accelerating the implementation of measures to achieve the WFD objective of good status for European waters. The European Commission published in 2019 the evaluation of water legislation – the Fitness Check and this provides the main directions for revisions and future water policies[1]

[1]  European Commissions, EU Water Legislation - Fitness Check https://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/fitness_check_of_the_eu_water_legislation/index_en.htm

comments (0)