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To this date, the management of water stress remains largely a national policy, but it operates within a multi-level governance scheme where different administrative levels play distinct roles. In keeping with the subsidiarity principle, the WFD and EU water scarcity and droughts policy provide a frame to integrate and build up on the Member States’ knowledge of local conditions while avoiding that short-term regional or local interests put the future needs of the wider community at risk. This effectively means that the EU complements the regulation and management responsibilities of local and regional authorities (EU COR, 2011). Nonetheless, there could be cases where the responsible public administration fails to develop a long-term strategy looking beyond the 6-year management cycles of the WFD and building effectively on the RBMPs (Buchanan et al., 2019).

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