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Water reuse: Setting minimum requirements

20-04-2020

Although freshwater is relatively abundant in the European Union (EU), water stress occurs in many areas, particularly in the Mediterranean region and parts of the Atlantic region, with environmental and economic impacts. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation setting EU-wide standards that reclaimed water would need to meet in order to be used for agricultural irrigation, with the aim of encouraging greater use of reclaimed water and contributing to alleviating ...

Although freshwater is relatively abundant in the European Union (EU), water stress occurs in many areas, particularly in the Mediterranean region and parts of the Atlantic region, with environmental and economic impacts. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation setting EU-wide standards that reclaimed water would need to meet in order to be used for agricultural irrigation, with the aim of encouraging greater use of reclaimed water and contributing to alleviating water scarcity. The Commission estimates that the proposal could increase water reuse in agricultural irrigation from 1.7 billion m³ to 6.6 billion m³ per year, thereby reducing water stress by 5 %. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading position on 12 February 2019, and the Council agreed on a general approach on 26 June 2019. Trilogue negotiations concluded with a provisional agreement on 2 December. The agreed text, endorsed by the ENVI committee on 21 January 2020, was adopted at first reading by the Council on 7 April. It now returns to the Parliament for final adoption at second reading. Second edition of a briefing originally drafted by Didier Bourguignon. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Irrigation in EU agriculture

13-12-2019

Irrigation is the provision of water to help crops grow when rainfall is not sufficient. While new farming methods and technologies allow some types of crops to be grown without soil, a certain amount of water is needed to grow any kind of crop. In today's economy, agriculture is one of the sectors that consumes the most water resources. Irrigation is the major cause of water consumption in agriculture. It contributes to increasing crop productivity, but it is also a threat to the preservation of ...

Irrigation is the provision of water to help crops grow when rainfall is not sufficient. While new farming methods and technologies allow some types of crops to be grown without soil, a certain amount of water is needed to grow any kind of crop. In today's economy, agriculture is one of the sectors that consumes the most water resources. Irrigation is the major cause of water consumption in agriculture. It contributes to increasing crop productivity, but it is also a threat to the preservation of water resources. Therefore, the issue of water scarcity requires careful reflection on the trade-off between higher agricultural productivity and the deterioration of water resources. A number of elements determine the amount of irrigation water used in agriculture, from the types of crop and cropping method to the characteristics of the soil and the irrigation technique, to name just a few. Therefore, agriculture itself provides opportunities for better water management and water savings, through both traditional farm practices and new farming technologies. Irrigation has been a feature of European agriculture for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, the majority of irrigated agricultural areas are in the EU’s southern regions, in particular in Spain and Italy. However, there are areas equipped for irrigation elsewhere, especially in the Netherlands. Over 40 % of the EU's water use is on agriculture, and most of the freshwater abstraction is for agricultural use in countries like Greece, Spain, and Cyprus. Prolonged periods of drought in many parts of the Union, the effects of climate change and pollution, as well as competition over use add further pressure on EU waters. Ensuring food security in view of climate change requires improvement in water-management capacity, including making users (farmers) more responsible. In recent times, the environmental performance of sectoral policies, such as in the area of agriculture, is increasingly scrutinised by citizens, stakeholders, and policy-makers. Various EU policy initiatives have been launched to address the challenge of sustainable water use in agriculture, including a more integrated approach to water management, water re-use, research and innovation, and more environmental ambition in the agricultural policy. Better policy coordination between EU policies and actions is seen as key to achieving the sustainable safeguarding of EU waters.

Setting minimum requirements for water reuse

06-09-2018

The Commission proposal aims to increase the uptake of water reuse for agricultural irrigation. The supporting impact assessment (IA) is based on extensive data and analysis. The range of options, the scope and the analysis of impacts, and the stakeholder consultation seem to have been done in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines. However, the objectives set in the IA are not time-bound, nor measurable. Furthermore, proportionality of the options and the presentation of the problem could be ...

The Commission proposal aims to increase the uptake of water reuse for agricultural irrigation. The supporting impact assessment (IA) is based on extensive data and analysis. The range of options, the scope and the analysis of impacts, and the stakeholder consultation seem to have been done in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines. However, the objectives set in the IA are not time-bound, nor measurable. Furthermore, proportionality of the options and the presentation of the problem could be improved.

Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability

28-10-2015

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, water management has caused severe disputes in Central Asia, due to conflicting needs and priorities between the upstream and downstream countries, thus endangering regional stability and security. In terms of distribution of natural resources, the countries in the region are divided into two groups: 'energy-poor but water-rich' upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and 'energy-rich but water-poor' downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan ...

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, water management has caused severe disputes in Central Asia, due to conflicting needs and priorities between the upstream and downstream countries, thus endangering regional stability and security. In terms of distribution of natural resources, the countries in the region are divided into two groups: 'energy-poor but water-rich' upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and 'energy-rich but water-poor' downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). While the first group is in dire need of water for energy, downstream countries need water for agriculture. As a result, natural resources have emerged not as tools for facilitating regional cooperation but as a source of conflict. The dispute over Tajikistan's Rogun Hydropower Plant Project represents a concrete example of the water-energy-food nexus in the region. As tension between energy-deprived Tajikistan and water-starved Uzbekistan grows, water becomes a source of conflict, posing a significant threat to regional stability. Bellicose statements from the leaders of Central Asian states reflect the importance of water-related disputes: Uzbek President Islam Karimov stated that 'water-related problems could spark wars'. Disagreement on water management has prompted initiatives from inside the region and from international actors, and the European Union is no exception. The EU's Central Asia Strategy, identified 'environment and water management' as a priority area. The EU has repeatedly stated that water-related disputes pose a major threat to regional security and stability. Recently, the Council Conclusions of June 2015 re-emphasised the critical importance of the issue. Possible acceleration of tension between the Central Asian states may deteriorate stability and security in the region, which already faces various other threats.

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