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The Floods Directive adopted in 2007 gives European countries a common framework to identify, evaluate and address flood risk. The Directive requires developing an integrated approach to managing flood risk using approaches based on the scale of the river basin and working more closely with nature. The 1st Flood Risk Management Plans focused on prevention, protection and preparedness were to be drawn up by 2015. For cities, the Floods Directive points to the development of urban areas which are resilient to changes that would otherwise cause an increasing likelihood of flooding.

The Birds and the Habitats Directives are also relevant to urban restoration as specific restoration measures may be taken to achieve biodiversity protection objectives in urban nature reserves including freshwater habitats.

The 2013 Commission Communication on green infrastructure (European Commission, 2013b) called upon planners to use natural measures or a combination of engineered structures and natural solutions more proactively to achieve the objectives of water and adaptation policy (see EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change of 2013 (European Commission, 2013c)). River restoration in and close to urban areas is particularly relevant to green infrastructures for reducing flood risk, especially in terms of floodplain restoration measures aiming to increase natural water retention.

Further, in 2015, the Commission published the “Towards an EU Research and Innovation” policy agenda for Nature-Based Solutions & Re-Naturing Cities[1]. This agenda has provided strong impetus for a strengthened research and innovation focus and deployment of many city water-related nature-based solutions such as de-culverting of previously piped streams and the re-creation or restoration of small city lakes and ponds. These activities aim to serve a diversity of purposes of which climate adaptation is one important aspect.  

Last but not least, an Urban Agenda for the EU is now in place as a joint effort of the European Commission, Member States and European Cities Networks to strengthen the recognition of the urban dimension by European and national policy actors. The European Urban Agenda recognises that to fully exploit the potential of urban areas the urban dimension should be stronger embedded within the EU policies. To this aim, a better working method, focused on cooperation between the EU, Member States and cities is needed. Part of this new approach includes the development of a range of European partnerships (Urban Agenda for the EU, Pact of Amsterdam, 2016).

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