Clean water is the driving force of life. It is an essential resource for people and nature and for regulating the climate. It is also crucial for the economy, agriculture and producing energy. Water faces many pressures including pollution from industrial chemicals, pesticides, nutrients and pharmaceuticals, climate change.
EU water policy is one of the cornerstones of environmental protection in the EU. The rules protect water resources, fresh and saltwater ecosystems, and ensure our drinking and bathing water are clean. In the context of the European Green Deal, the Water Framework Directive provides the main framework and the objectives for water policy in Europe.
In the EU
The EU’s main aim is to ensure that all Europeans have access to good quality and sufficient water, and to guarantee the good status of all water bodies across Europe. EU rules aim to ensure that water is managed sustainably in the long-term, water pollution is reduced, and aquatic ecosystems are protected.
EU rules to ensure clean and high-quality bathing water across Europe
Improving access to drinking water for all
EU measures to manage flood risk and the risks floods pose to human health and the environment.
EU action to ensure good quantity and quality of groundwater.
EU action to protect Europe’s coasts, seas and oceans.
Protecting waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources
EU rules protecting surface waters from chemical pollution.
EU rules to ensure that urban wastewater is properly dealt with.
Managing water resources more efficiently and facilitating water reuse in the EU
Water scarcity and droughts
Preventing and mitigating water scarcity and droughts in the EU
EU efforts on the global water agenda
It is essential to sustain the political momentum of the UN 2023 Water Conference, to accelerate actions for clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.
See how EU countries implement the Water Framework Directive.
Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform
Bringing together experts in different policy areas to mainstream the zero-pollution agenda.
Tools and instruments
Water Information System for Europe (WISE)
Discover the latest data and information on European fresh and marine waters.
Visit EUROSTAT for statistics on water quality and use in the EU.
Main laws: Water Framework Directive, Floods Directive, Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, Drinking Water Directive, Bathing Water Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Nitrates Directive
Related topics: Industrial emissions, Marine and coastal environment
Related strategies: Biodiversity strategy for 2030, Circular economy action plan, Zero pollution action plan
Related Commissions priorities: European Green Deal
For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.