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In the context of the European Green Deal - the roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable - and the recovery from the economic and social crises triggered by the coronavirus, investments in water can contribute to sustainable growth and to building resilience for communities to a range of water and health risks. More specifically, compliance with the Water Framework, Drinking Water, the Urban Wastewater Treatment and the Flood Directives contributes to the health of European citizens, protects water bodies and ecosystems, and enhances the resilience of our communities and economies.

The recent Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive and the evaluation of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive confirm that these directives are still relevant after several decades and create value for money. While the economic case for achieving compliance with the water acquis is robust, several countries still find it difficult to mobilise the required level of investment.

In that context, the European Commission and the OECD joined forces to assess the scale of investment still required to achieve compliance with the EU water acquis, to better understand financing capacities at country level and to explore options to bridge the financing gap. The European Commission and member states can reflect on the Recommendations derived from this analysis to inform their activities to reach compliance, at better cost for communities.

This report illustrates the unique combination of data, analytical skills, policy insights and convening power that the European Commission and the OECD can leverage together. It also illustrates the benefit of a dialogue between our respective institutions and constituencies. We learned a lot from this process and the interactions with national and local authorities, civil society organisations, corporations and financiers. We are grateful to the countries, professionals and experts who contributed throughout the process.

This collaboration is already having concrete impacts. First, it informs regulatory reforms the European Commission seeks to undertake. Second, it inspires reform agendas in several EU member states, with support from the European Commission Structural Reform Support. It will also inform further analyses and policy discussions in European institutions and OECD bodies, including through a future regional meeting of the Roundtable on Financing Water co-convened by the OECD and the European Investment Bank. This collaboration continues, as the European Commission and the OECD facilitate a series of thematic workshops to support the implementation of the policy recommendations in this report.

This report is well worth a read. We trust it can inspire result-oriented action to the benefit of our member states and beyond. Its messages go beyond the water community and are relevant for governments and partners committed to deliver water-wise, sustainable and resilient development, at international, national or local scales.


Daniel Calleja Director General, DG Environment European Commission


Rodolfo Lacy Director of the Environment Directorate Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

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