Main Challenges of the EU Water Policy
A Masterclass of Veronica Manfredi, Director, Quality of Life, DG Environment European Commission – Monday 14 September 2020
Article by Naomi Timmer
Monday 14 September, day 1 of EJWP1 sixth training week. We had to meet in our online training cocoon but that gave us the opportunity to invite all our new ambassadors to meet the participants of EJWP and share their thoughts. Veronica as new ambassador took the participants on a crash course of the agenda of the European Commission, focusing on the position of water in the agenda.
To start with, she encouraged the young water professionals to take a leadership role since water challenges are both expanding and compelling, in the EU and worldwide. Veronica believes that water is a key topic on the agenda of green growth and job creation, and expressed her trust that ‘we’, at EJWP, are on the right track.
With that having been said, the crash course on the European Agenda started. The first topic was the European Green Deal. At its launch, EC President Ursula von der Leyen stated “The European Green Deal should become Europe’s hallmark. At the heart of it is our commitment to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent.” To reach this we need to share knowledge and we need progressive thoughts.
To achieve this ambitious goal, the European Commission assessed what policies and actions need to be developed and implemented, and Veronica briefly introduced the package to the participants:
- The Zero – Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil will create opportunities for innovators;
- The Circular Economy Action plan, closes the loop;
- Next Generation Programme becomes Europe’s moment to repair and prepare for the future;
- the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is bringing nature back into our lives;
- the Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, and
- the EU Strategy on Energy System Integration is soon to be launched.
The EC is also working on a Water Fitness check of the Water Framework Directive, how can we improve it and increase implementation? What is the status of our Ground Waters? What are the developments of the Sewage Sludge Directive, the Industrial Emissions Directive or the Water Re-Use regulations? These are all water-related policies and regulations. Member states should go beyond central government action and assist local authorities to implement the transposed directives as well.
Focus not only on European policies, is the call of Veronica Manfredi. Start with the public buildings of the water organizations, become energy and water efficient. There is so much to gain if you look at design solutions in buildings and in local communities, she stressed.
Stop working only among water sector people! We need a holistic, integrated approach among all sectors. She urged the participants to raise their questions to member states and local authorities. And of course, to her and her colleagues at the European Commission:
Let us know how we can help. What do you need? Reply on our communications, ask questions. We, as EC, can create Directives and Action Plans, but work with us on awareness activities, stimulate better training and skills.
Veronica also mentioned that the staff at the EC can do only so much and turned the tables by asking young professionals in general, and the EJWP specifically, to support with outreach.
Be our ambassador on the ground! was Veronica’s closing call to action for the EJWP participants.
And so we will be. To be continued 🙂