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Lawmakers call for ‘European Blue Deal’ to tackle water challenges

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A cross-party group of lawmakers in the European Parliament have issued a joint call to establish an ambitious “European Blue Deal” to protect water resources from climate stress and promote ocean energies.

An EU Blue Deal would complement the objectives of the European Green Deal through the sustainable management of water supplies.

“Water is a fundamental resource that sustains life on earth, our ecosystems and economy,” says the letter, signed by a cross-party group of MEPs.

However, they warn that Europe is increasingly facing water challenges that require immediate attention, saying the “impacts of climate change, urbanisation, industrialisation, and agricultural practices have put immense pressure on our water resources”.

“This summer’s droughts and floods across Europe were another stark reminder that we need and must take action immediately in every member state and at the EU level,” said Pernille Weiss, a Danish centre-right lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament’s MEP Water Group.

“Doing nothing will cost us far more in the long run than investing in the sustainable management of water,” she added in a statement, calling for a “holistic” strategy to tackle water issues across different sectors such as agriculture, environment, industry, energy, and domestic uses.

Blue economy

An EU water strategy would also encompass the so-called “blue economy”, which comprises ocean- and coast-based industries, as well as offshore renewable energies such as wind and tidal power.

The European Commission says ocean energies are indispensable to reach the EU’s climate targets, but the sector faces challenges related to limited maritime space and potential environmental impacts, according to a recent report by the European Court of Auditors.

At the same time, the MEPs warn that Europe’s green and digital transition is putting additional strain on water resources, citing “water-intensive sectors such as semiconductors and hydrogen production” that are being promoted at the EU level without considering their impact on water resources.

“Key sectors of the economy tend to benefit from dedicated funds, but one essential aspect of their value chains remains forgotten: water. The reality, however, is that the shift to a net-zero economy simply cannot happen without it,” the letter states.

Water-smart legislation

To address those multiple issues, the MEPs are calling for appointing a dedicated EU Commission vice-president to deal with water security and resilience.

The end goal, they add, is to create “water-smart legislations” to achieve a society where “the value of water is recognised and understood”.

“Water is our most precious resource. Europe needs to recognise the importance of water in all of its policies, and this requires an ambitious strategy on a par with the European Green Deal,” said Pietro de Lotto, coordinator on the EU Blue Deal at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), a consultative body.

“European civil society is ready to contribute to this, and we are pleased to join forces with Members of the European Parliament who share our ambition. It is time for an EU Blue Deal!”

> Read the full letter below or download here:

Joint Call for an EU Blue Deal Strategy

[Edited by Frederic Simon/Alice Taylor]

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