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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Outlook Opinion on “The role of regional and local authorities in promoting sustainable water policy”

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has been drafting an Outlook Opinion requested by the Hungarian EU Presidency on “The role of regional and local authorities in promoting sustainable water policy”.

The Rapporteur on the opinion, Mr. Nichi Vendola, Member of the ENVE Commission of the CoR and the President of the Region of Apulia (IT), presented the working document during the ENVE Commission's seventh meeting, held at the Committee building on Monday, 14 February 2011. It was followed by statements by Mr. István Kling, State Secretary for Water, Ministry of Rural Development of Hungary, and Mr. Peter Gammeltoft, Head of Water Unit, DG Environment, European Commission, and an exchange of views, as well. The first discussion and adoption of the draft opinion by the Commission is foreseen on 5 May 2011 whereas the final adoption of the CoR is expected at the plenary session of 30 June and 1 July 2011.

The day after, 15 February 2011, the President of the Region of Apulia and his expert, Mr. Umberto Fratino, met with representatives of the associations of local and regional authorities and other stakeholders for a public consultation and exchange of views on his opinion, at the premises of the CoR. The consultation focused on a set of questions that were identified in the request by the Hungarian Presidency:

• How to put the water cycle at the heart of European to local level adaptation to climate change?
• How to address water scarcity by balancing water demand, supply and in particular ecosystem needs, and by considering issues such as introducing targets for water saving and water quantity management in line with Water Framework Directive? How to manage extreme water events in a more integrated manner, by seeking new types of interventions?
• With regard to governance issues: What conclusions do local and regional authorities draw form the first series of river basin management plans? Which role local and regional authorities can play in strengthening of international cooperation within river basins?
• How the EU and the Member States can and should provide support to local and regional authorities in the above-mentioned fields?

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