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Water and marine environment

Securing the sustainable use of water remains a key challenge

Clean water is an essential resource for human health, agriculture, energy production, transport and nature. But it is also under multiple pressures. Currently, only 40% of Europe’s surface water bodies achieve good ecological status. In addition, even though EU countries have managed to reduce selected pressures, the status of our marine ecosystems remains critical, both in terms of species and habitats. More efforts are needed to achieve Europe's freshwater and marine-related environmental targets.

State of bathing waters in 2019

This map shows bathing water locations and their quality for the latest as well as previous bathing seasons. All symbols are coloured according to achieved quality status in the most recent season. Data are presented on two levels: country (less detailed scales) and bathing water (more detailed scales).

Data sources:

Many different human activities on land and at sea cause pressures on Europe’s seas. A European Environment Agency’s (EEA) briefing, published today, shows that these pressures have now reached the outermost sea areas and the deepest seafloor. Human activities affect negatively 93 % of Europe’s sea area.

Freshwater resources are unevenly distributed throughout the European Union’s (EU) six Eastern Partnership countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine — according to a European Environment Agency’s report, published today. The EEA report presents an assessment of freshwater availability and water-use efficiency in the region.

Achieving a cleaner Mediterranean Sea requires better implementation of policies and enhanced environmental data and information, according to a joint report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), published today. Cumulative effects of waste and marine litter, and wastewater and industrial emissions remain key challenges for the region.

Published: 10 Dec 2020

Europe’s seas are overexploited. Most of Europe’s marine area (93 %) is under multiple pressures from human activities, which have reached the most remote areas. The EU’s maritime economy will not be sustainable unless it is confined to the current ecological limits of marine ecosystems. That means decoupling human activities on land and sea from the degradation and depletion of marine ecosystem capital. This briefing summarises a spatial assessment of the multiple pressures on Europe’s seas (ETC/ICM, 2019a).

Published: 03 Nov 2020

Water resources, surface water quality and water consumption in the Eastern Partnership countries

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