EU fears water shortages may soon spark internal clashes – Politico

Aprilia Rine

EU fears water shortages may soon spark internal clashes – Politico

A leaked European Commission document warns climate change will have a destructive impact on water supplies in many member states

Climate change is putting EU water resources under pressure and could trigger conflicts within states and between member countries of the bloc over water supplies, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing a leaked communiqué drafted by the European Commission. 

According to the outlet, the bloc’s executive arm will warn member states next week of rising climate risks. Brussels has reportedly said the EU was not doing enough to address the issue and is urging governments to speed up in their preparations to counter global warming.

The Commission’s document identified water scarcity as one of the top risks facing its 27 member countries. Water shortages threaten almost every aspect of life and could reportedly provoke a race for supply within the EU, officials warned.

“These risks can manifest in multiple forms, some of which include increased competition over water resources across sectors and uses, including potential risk of conflicts within and among the member states over transboundary water resources,” according to the draft cited by Politico.

While green policies are facing a backlash in the EU, pressure on water resources is mounting due to increased extreme weather events, such as heavy rain resulting in floods and drought leading to water scarcity, the outlet said, citing the draft communiqué.

The report warns of a destructive impact of climate change on EU economies, and adds that some member countries are already experiencing clashes over supplies.

Competition for water sparked disputes between regions in Spain earlier this year. Catalonia, which currently faces the worst drought on record, tried to persuade the Madrid government last month to divert water through the Ebro River from neighboring Aragón. In France climate activists clashed with police last year protesting against the construction of water reservoirs for farmers, Politico noted.

The European Commission reportedly estimates that worsening climate impacts could slash the bloc’s economic output by 7% until the year 2100. Water-related risks such as coastal flooding could cost the EU €1.6 trillion ($1.75tn) in annual damage.

“Climate resilience is a matter of competitiveness for economies and companies, and thus jobs. It is a matter of economic survival for rural and coastal areas, farmers, foresters and fishermen,” the document states.

The European Commission pointed out that even with some policies in place, management of global warming in the bloc is well short of providing “reasonable assurance,” its document points out.

It also warns that in future the EU could face more climate-change-related “disasters” such as “droughts, floods, wildfires, diseases, crop failures, heat deaths, infrastructure damage, and structural changes to the environment.”

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