Brussels warns of water conflict danger in EU

By Zia Weise | 03/07/2024 12:21 PM EST

A document obtained by POLITICO shows the European Union will urge capitals to accelerate their preparations for a warming world.

Dry soil next to the low water-level reservoir of Sau with in background Sant Roma de Sau church, in the province of Girona in the Catalonia region of Spain on Jan. 15.

Dry soil next to the low reservoir of Sau with Sant Roma de Sau church in the background in the Catalonia region of Spain on Jan. 15. Lluis Gene/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS — Water scarcity risks sparking conflict among European Union countries unprepared for a warming world, the bloc’s executive will warn next week, according to a leaked document obtained by POLITICO.

The stark message is part of a European Commission communiqué imploring EU governments to pick up the pace in their preparations to counter climate change, arguing they have fallen well short of what is necessary — a blunt warning that will serve as the EU’s last major climate initiative ahead of June’s blocwide elections.

In an undated draft of the text seen by POLITICO, the Commission identifies water shortages as an issue that threatens nearly every aspect of life: the food we eat, the water we drink, and the infrastructure that powers and transports society, not to mention basic economic activities and human health.


“These risks can manifest in multiple forms, some of which include … increased competition over water resources across sectors and uses, including potential risk of conflicts within and among the Member States over transboundary water resources,” the draft states.