This week a delegation of the key European water-related organisations met with Karmenu VELLA, the new European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, to discuss water’s contribution to the new Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change.
With 90% of the global economic activity dependent on water, protection of this key resource is highly relevant to Juncker’s top priority to boost jobs growth, and investment. Water plays a major role in the EU Commission’s ambitions to establish a ‘resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy’ and a ‘connected digital single market’ given the interdependencies between water, energy and food production, and the fact that the water infrastructure is a principal urban infrastructure. Innovative ICT solutions have a major role to play in addressing water challenges.
The ‘Key priorities for water under the Juncker Commission’, released in September last year, provided the basis of the discussion between Commissioner Vella and the representatives of the water sector. Participants discussed the amongst other importance of innovation for the implementation of water-related policies; integration of water issues into other policy areas, polluter pays principle and pollution control at source; improving the transparency of the cost of water and cost recovery; and the importance of water in the context of smart cities, eco-innovation, and the circular economy.
Over the next few weeks the water sector will meet with other Commissioners to highlight the importance of water in their respective portfolios.