This section introduces to specific assessments, following the same structure and order of the other WISE Freshwater sections, the content is organised by main legislative framework (which is structured according to the Water Framework Directive (WFD), and its daughter Directives.

Clean water is an essential resource for human health, agriculture, industry, energy production, transport, recreation, and nature. Securing that enough water of high quality is available for all purposes including water and wetland ecosystems, remains a key challenge globally, within Europe, and in our time. Europe’s waters and wetlands remain under pressure from water pollution from nutrients and hazardous substances, over-abstraction of water, and physical changes.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate many of those pressures. Depending on the pressure, they act on groundwater, rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters, as well as the riparian zone and wetlands. In return, this reduces the quality of the natural services provided by those ecosystems. A challenge remains to further reduce many pressures on water. These are linked to industrial activities, (intense) agriculture, as well as other human activities that although economically important, also unfortunately add large pressures to the (aquatic) environment.

Improving water status will support improvements in biodiversity, and the marine environment. Finally, Europe indirectly uses freshwater resources in countries outside Europe through imports of goods with water-intensive production chains.