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Within the EU there has been a gradual shift in water policy from simply addressing human health and economic damage concerns towards a more holistic understanding the environmental impacts of water users and addressing the needs of the environment. This is epitomized in the adoption of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) (EC 2000) and its emphasis on ‘good ecological status’ or ‘good ecological potential’ (GES/GEP). However, while the legislative framework is deemed adequate, fundamental weaknesses in implementation and conflicts that exist between water and other existing EU policies outside of the environmental sphere have been identified in the Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources consultation document (EC 2012). There have also been few attempts to assess the vulnerability of European waters to future change when assessing the potential impacts of climate change on freshwater resources. This has been a key focus of the IPCC Climate Change and Water Technical Paper (IPCC, Bates, et al. 2008) and more recently the IPCC special report on managing the risk of extreme events (IPCC 2012).

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