Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic

More and more Europeans are experiencing lack of Water, the Ministers called for a common solutions

Climate change and related alternating periods of drought and floods were the main topics of the Ministerial Conference on Water and the informal Council of EU for Environment.

The debate has clearly shown that each EU country is facing this phenomenon otherwise. Some suffer from prolonged droughts, other states from more frequent floods and there are also states that are experiencing both of these extreme events. For example, the Mediterranean experiences a shortage of water for longer time and according to some prognosis there is a risk that this will face the African scenario. Up to 70 million Europeans are affected by water problem during summer and this trend will worsen dramatically. Its lack are beginning to perceive already in northern Europe while the Baltic states are affected by frequent flooding. EU spends 5 billion Euros a year to deal with the aftermath of floods and 3 billion Euros for drought damage. These costs will rise by the assessment of the European Commission (EC).

Although the problems of each country are unique, the Ministers called for a setting of clear common European objectives in the fight against climate change, even though there is no single universal solution.

"Water is not granted, its resources are limited, the demand for it increases. We have to appreciate it more. Although it does not seem to, it concerns us all, because its deficiency may bring many risks, including social instability. There is no time to procrastinate. We need to find a common European flexible and sustainable access to effective water management," the Minister of the Environment László Solymos said on Tuesday, July 12 at a press conference where he led a two-day informal discussion.

Ministers agreed on the need of improving water reuse recovery. In the EU, it is possible to recycle about 17 % water, but this potential is still underused. They highlighted the need of a better managed water management in agriculture, because this sector consumes the most of it as a result of drought and population growth. Several ministers think that this issue has not only a negative character and it should be seen as a good opportunity to introduce some new technological solutions. For example, the transport of water, innovation of irrigation systems, more efficient natural water retention measures in the country and greater involvement of science and research. The discussions showed that a large role in solving the shortage of water must play awareness to let people know to better manage with this vulnerable source.

The debate of delegates will serve to develop the conclusions of the Council of the EU in this field, which will contribute to a wider debate about the nature and focus of future EU water policy.

Ministers responsible for climate change appealed for the earliest possible ratification of the Treaty of Paris at the meeting. So far among EU countries has made so only France and Hungary. "I am glad that we are all aware not only the procedural, but also the political importance of rapid ratification so that the European Union can continue in the fight against climate change and be a leading example," said László Sólymos. He added that Slovakia would like to terminate this process in this year. Discussants emphasized that the implementation of commitments in the Paris Agreement will be an opportunity for new investment and jobs.
The delegates met on Monday, July 11 in Reduta, in Bratislava, on Ministerial Conference on Water and then at the informal meeting, which continued on Tuesday, July 12, when the ministers responsibles for climate change were joined by the Ministers of energy. The meetings were held at the beginning of Slovakia's presidency in the EU Council. The theme of water is one of Slovakia's national contributions to the European debate.