Europe's Water Opportunity: EU Blue Deal Gains Momentum ahead of EU Elections

The European Economic and Social Committee's (EESC) call for an EU Blue Deal is garnering support from policymakers and civil society. This momentum is driven by a growing recognition of the urgency of addressing water scarcity and the potential of the Blue Deal to provide a comprehensive solution to this pressing issue.

A recent event at the EESC brought together key stakeholders from across Europe who rallied in support of the Blue Deal initiative and its potential to transform water management practices across the continent. The event was co-organised with the European Parliament Intergroup on "Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development" and the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR).

"We are facing a water crisis of unprecedented proportions," said EESC President Oliver Röpke, highlighting the critical role of water for both people and the natural environment. Referring to the upcoming European elections in June, the EESC President also noted that water is a topic of concern for EU citizens. "How will our decision makers in Europe address the issue of water and the challenges that lie ahead? Now is the time to ask these questions."

Member of the European Parliament, Pernille Weiss, echoed this sentiment, advocating for a dedicated water transition fund to support businesses and communities in transitioning to sustainable water practices. "We cannot wait any longer to act on the water crisis. The Blue Deal provides a clear roadmap for a sustainable future," urged Weiss.

"Water scarcity and climate change have no borders. The EU has the potential to lead the way in developing a global solution to the water crisis," stated UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, lending a global perspective to the discussions.

The Committee's call for an EU Blue Deal has resonated with a wide range of stakeholders, including (CNR), a French public interest company that manages the Rhône River. CNR's Director of Water Resources, Eric Divet, shared the company's successful track record in sustainable water management, including efforts to restore wetlands, improve river biodiversity and adapt to climate change.

"We stand at a crossroads," Divet explained, "We must choose the path of sustainable water management and shared responsibility.  The Blue Deal offers a valuable opportunity to scale up these efforts across Europe."

The European Commission is expected to unveil its Water Resilience Initiative in the coming months. The EESC stands ready to collaborate with the EU institutions and stakeholders to ensure that its proposals for an EU Blue Deal are heard in the process of defining the new strategic priorities for the new European Commission, which is expected to take office at the end of 2024.