The year 2012 has been declared the European Year for Water. The next 12 months will see the development of a road map on the efficient use of water resources, and a mid-term review of the EU's Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), within which the evaluation of the effects of climate change and water management will be top priorities for both the European Commission and the member states. This review will lead to the publication of a blueprint' in the autumn. This will outline a long-term vision (until 2050) and make recommendations for the period between now and 2020 within the framework of the Europe 2020' strategy.

The Water Framework Directive, adopted in 2000, established the necessary legal basis for the protection, restoration and rational and sustainable use of Europe's water resources. Its main objective is to ensure "good ecological and chemical status" for all EU waters by 2015. However, alongside the traditional problems of pollution and over-exploitation of water resources for consumption and for industrial, agricultural and energy production, new challenges must be considered - not least, the consequences of climate change. The next blueprint, which will be developed alongside the mid-term review of the implementation of the directive, should offer responses to these challenges, and will aim to improve the EU's water policy to ensure that "good quality" water is available in "adequate" quantities and for authorised use.

The blueprint will be based on an assessment of the status of...

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