1 post / 0 new
admin's picture
Policy case studies for Water Framework Directive (WFD)

Narratives selected

The narratives chosen are two of several identified about synergies and tensions, aligning and opposing objectives within the WFD. The text below summarises the narratives and is a synthesis of materials drawn from document analysis and interviews with the Commission and related institutions.

Success and challenge in safeguarding water resources in the EU

The 2012 Blueprint report of the EC formulates ambiguously on success and challenge of EU’s water policy:

Water is essential for human life, nature and the economy. […] The EU’s water policy has been successful in helping to protect our water resources.” But reports highlight “worrying trends showing the increase and wider spread of water scarcity and stress.

This ambiguity is represented in the two narratives selected for study:

Narrative A - The WFD as a success story in environmental policy and integrated governance.

The WFD environmental goals were possible in a moment of economic fluency where expectations on the possibility to fund the implementation were high. However, the social and economic context has substantially changed in the last decade, posing important challenges to Member States in the achievement of environmental goals.

Why was this narrative selected »

The narrative highlight the potential for tensions and synergies to exist in the WFD between the delivery of water services to fulfill societal needs and the protection of water resources.

The proposed analysis combines quantitative and qualitative analytical tools from Quantitative Story Telling approaches in MAGIC to provide a discussion of how socially desirable and socioeconomically viable the WFD and its environmental goals are under current conditions. The assessment will pay special attention to the diversity among Member States (MS) in terms of challenges to achieve environmental goals and financial restrictions (related to other narratives on Member States compliance and on their unequal situations). Quantitative considerations on links of water and energy production and water and food production will feed into the analyses.

Narrative B - Europe needs to improve the aquatic environment in order to secure water for its citizens and economic benefits.

Relieving stress on European water bodies according to WFD goals may translate into constraints on the European agricultural sector, leading to stronger dependency on imports that draw on external natural resources, in a world where the pressure on those resources already is high in many of the exporting countries.

Why was this narrative selected »

The narratives highlight the potential for tensions and synergies to exist in the WFD between the delivery of water services to fulfill societal needs and the protection of water resources.

This narrative examines the EU water footprint in a globalised world. The MAGIC diagnosis whether the EU can only meet its targets for good status by ‘externalising’ those activities that are most demanding/polluting of water. Both of these issues are analysed in MAGIC by examining the “metabolic pattern” of EU economies and the consequential pressures placed on natural and human capitals beyond the EU. In addition, scenarios are checked in relation to how a more effective connection of WFD and CAP would result in water dependency risks.

These narratives were having greatest interest from among a set of twelve narratives (see the Definition Policy Case Studies Milestone report) by those stakeholders who could respond to requests for preferences.

For more information:


Download the "Definition Policy Case Studies" Milestone report