Press release

Better coordination will reduce the risk of floods

Environment - 13-06-2006 - 15:36
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Flooded road

MEPs urge coordination on flood risks

Since almost 80 per cent of European rivers flow across borders and coastlines are shared, MEPs are calling on EU countries to coordinate flood risk assessment and management. Legislation amended on Tuesday, 13 June, says the focus should be on risk rather than floods and urges Member States to draw up flood risk maps. While emphasising the environmental impact of floods, the law leaves it up to Member States to develop specific measures for special areas.

Parliament says that one needed to expand the definition of the territories concerned. It states that one needs to refer to flood risks rather than floods and that the areas which could be subject to erosion of flood terraces and slopes of river valleys and to bank erosion and debris flow deposition needed to be included in the management proposal as the previous version referred only to damage to coastal areas, whereas most flooding in Europe affects river valleys.
MEPs emphasise the importance of the environment as this framework will help to attain the environmental objectives laid down in the Community legislation in force in addition to assessing and managing of flood risks aiming at the reduction of the adverse consequences on human health, the environment and economic activity associated with floods in the Community. They note that flooding per se is not a risk to the environment, but that flood damage to the environment mainly occurs through damages to human property and the release of dangerous chemicals. The House proposes the drawing up of flood maps showing the installations that might cause accidental environmental pollution as a consequence of flooding.
The report says the aim of the Directive is not only the reduction of flood risks, but also the management of such risks. Therefore Member States shall, at the level of the river basin district, prepare flood maps and indicative flood damage maps, hereinafter “flood risk maps”, for the river basins, sub-basins and stretches of coastline identified. Existing maps prepared by Member States which meet the requirements of this Directive may be used for this purpose in order to avoid unnecessary costs. In addition, the Member States should therefore be allowed some discretion as to what investigation period or what likely return period they wish to use as the basis for their high-probability flooding maps.
Concerning areas beyond national borders, MEPs say that in the case of shared river basins, sub-basins or stretches of coastline, Member States shall cooperate in the implementation of the Directive. Parliament also says that Member States shall, at the level of the river basin district, prepare flood maps and indicative flood damage maps, hereinafter “flood risk maps”, for the river basins, sub-basins and stretches of coastline and shall use the flood risk maps to phase out direct or indirect subsidies that have the effect of increasing flood risks." 
The report aims to ensure that in the case of shared river basins Member States are required to coordinate when determining the levels of protection. This is a particularly important safeguard for downstream countries. Furthermore, in the case of an international river basin district extending beyond the boundaries of the Community, where one single international flood risk management plan including any third country concerned is not produced, the Member State or Member States concerned shall endeavour to establish appropriate coordination with the relevant third countries, with the aim of achieving the objectives of this Directive throughout the river basin district.
Parliament states that the flood risk management plans shall include measures the flood risk management plan shall also include an assessment of rescue and recovery measures and that the impact of climate change shall be taken into account in drawing up this report.
REF.: 20060608IPR08811