United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture
Last modified: October 15, 2012

Water Framework Directive


Water management is a one of the most important environmental priorities for the European Union. Water scarcity is a growing concern: an estimated 20 percent of all surface water in the European Union is seriously threatened with pollution and 50 percent of EU wetlands have endangered status due to ground water overexploitation leading to salination in coastal areas. Since 1985, irrigated land area in Southern Europe has increased by 20 percent.


In October 2000, the EU adopted a directive establishing an EU framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters, and ground water. The directive aims to ensure that all aquatic, terrestrial, and wetland ecosystems meet “good status” by 2015.


The European Commission has identified agriculture as the priority sector in which measures to combat water scarcity need to be considered. In other sectors almost all water used returns to a water body. However, only about one third of the water used for agriculture purposes is returned.


More about the EU Water Framework Directive can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-framework/index_en.html.