With flooding in central Europe once more headline news this spring and the loss of at least twelve lives across Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia, the proposal for a new Floods Directive from the European Commission in January 2006 seems like a timely intervention. Ecologic together with IEEP has produced a preliminary assessment of the Flood Directive proposed by the European Commission. It is intended as a policy briefing to help inform members of the European Parliament about the issues involved when discussing the proposal.
In 2002, floods across central Europe killed 52 people, left thousands homeless and caused damages of around 14 billion Euro. Fear of repeat of such an event lead to the suggestion of action on an EU level. The European Commission after much discussion, finally produced an proposal for a floods directive on 18 January 2006. Little assessment of the proposal has so far been carried out.
This briefing is part of the output of the project: Consultancy for the European Parliament's Environment Committee.
The policy briefing sums up how flooding policy in Europe had developed; the other policy areas which relate to flooding, in particular the Water Framework Directive (WFD); the economic effects of floods; informational issues for the general public and finally the assessment of the proposal.
The Directive requires Member States to produce a preliminary flood risk assessment, followed by flood risk maps (to be produced by 2013) which show the areas most likely to be affected by floods. Based on these, they should prepare and implement flood risk management plans. The timing of implementation of the Directive has been deliberately synchronised with that of the WFD and as with the WFD, actions should be carried out on a river basin level. This should allow for the use of common management committees and combination of efforts.
It was concluded that overall, the Directive offers a good basis for improved flood management in Europe and has the potential to reduce the risks to human health. Action on an EU level was described essential (not only for transboundary rivers) to tackle the potentially serious impact on human health.
The policy briefing is available for download [pdf, 134 KB, English].