By Pietro De Lotto, President of the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change

Water is a human right, and fundamental to all aspects of life. Access to water has been something we have taken for granted in Europe for a long time.

But the world is facing a water crisis, and our continent is no exception. Recent reports show that the European Union is not on track to achieve the sustainable development goals related to water. Around 30% of the EU population is affected by some form of water stress. Last summer saw the worst droughts in Europe in 500 years. Water poverty - lack of access to good quality and affordable water and sanitation - is an everyday experience for millions of EU citizens today.  

The EESC strongly believes that the EU's current approach to water policies is fragmented and does not address the challenges we face sufficiently. It is high time for a change of scale, as was the case with climate policies some years ago. This is why the EESC has chosen water as its cross-cutting package this year and will be calling for an EU Blue Deal, a comprehensive strategy to address all water challenges ahead. Water is vital, and can therefore no longer be treated as one of the pillars of the EU Green Deal - it deserves a policy of its own.

Across its sections, the EESC is working on a set of own-initiative opinions, covering economic, social, environmental and geopolitical aspects of water challenges. We examine the impacts of these on agriculture, industries, infrastructures and sustainable consumption, highlight the need for foresight in the EU on water and the need for reliable data, and call for adequate financing.  

We believe that there is a need to integrate water better into all EU policies, including EU industrial policy. The EU also has the opportunity to position itself as a frontrunner in this area. To support the transformation of our society, Europe must become the world leader in water-efficient technologies. These are an important part of the solution for all society, making agriculture and public and private consumption more water-efficient and sustainable and contributing to our competitiveness and to future employment.

Our aim is to have the European Commission adopt water as one of its political priorities for the next mandate. On 26 October, the EESC will adopt its call for an EU Blue Deal and deliver concrete and meaningful proposals for a new European water strategy.

But we cannot achieve this all alone. The EESC is working closely with key stakeholders and institutions for an ambitious water policy for Europe. We will monitor the take-up of our proposals and make sure that there will be follow-up actions in the months and years to come on this topic, which directly impacts the lives of each and every citizen. I invite you to join us, to support us, in our call for an EU Blue Deal.