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EU environment ministers to discuss problems caused by droughts and water scarcity



Today, on the 31st of August, the informal meeting of EU environment ministers starts in Lisbon. As Lithuanian Minister of Environment Arūnas Kundrotas remarked before departing, it will mostly focus on discussing problems caused by droughts and water scarcity. In the recent decades, these problems have become increasingly relevant also for Europe. The consequences of intensifying droughts and scarcity of drinking water have had negative impacts on the environment and the socio-economic sector.

Informal meetings of EU environment ministers are held twice yearly. They are arranged by the presiding EU Member State. The meeting to end on the 2nd of September was organised in Lisbon by Portugal, which drafted an overview on the consequences of water scarcity and droughts in Europe for ministerial discussions.

Those consequences have already affected more than one third of the EU territory (around 800,000 square kilometres) and about 20 per cent (100 million) of the population. In the last three decades, droughts alone have caused damage in the amount of 100 billion euros. Therefore adequate preparation for the challenges of nature and development of drought risk management plans and of a drought monitoring and early warning system are of utmost importance. Mismanagement and inefficient use of water resources is another extremely relevant problem. Europe still loses about 20 per cent of water due to the lack of saving.

The communication drafted in July by the European Commission provides ways to address problems caused by droughts and water scarcity. EU environment ministers during the meeting in Lisbon will express opinions about the legal and economic measures proposed in the said communication.

Although according to the Minister of Environment Arūnas Kundrotas Lithuania does not face the actual problem of water scarcity with droughty summer months reoccurring more frequently only in the last decade, our country is in the process of implementing quite a few measures proposed in the European Commission's communication. Among the economic measures for regulating water resources, taxes for those resources and for water pollution are worth mentioning. Commenced reorganisation of the water economy will help to ensure supply of good-quality drinking water to the majority of the country's population.

Public Information Division, Tel. 266 3660

31 August 2007

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas