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


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


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

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

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

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.

Join the EU campaign to see water differently. From 29 May, dive into the #WaterWiseEU campaign.

Tools and instruments

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


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