Skip to main content
Environment

Water

Protecting the EU’s water resources and ecosystems and ensuring all Europeans have access to clean drinking and bathing water.

Overview

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.

Read more about the Water Framework Directive

In the EU

Only 40%
of surface water bodies achieve good ecological status
Almost 85%
of bathing water sites are of excellent quality
Over 90%
of urban wastewater is dealt with in line with EU standards

Objectives

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.

Specific policies

Bathing water

EU rules to ensure clean and high-quality bathing water across Europe

Floods

EU measures to manage flood risk and the risks floods pose to human health and the environment.

Groundwater

EU action to ensure good quantity and quality of groundwater.

Marine waters

EU action to protect Europe’s coasts, seas and oceans.

Nitrates

Protecting waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources

Surface water

EU rules protecting surface waters from chemical pollution.

Urban wastewater

EU rules to ensure that urban wastewater is properly dealt with.

Water Reuse

Managing water resources more efficiently and facilitating water reuse in the EU

Actions

Implementation

See how EU countries implement the Water Framework Directive.

Tools and instruments

Statistics

Visit EUROSTAT for statistics on water quality and use in the EU.

Contact

For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.

News