Drought is recognized as a major issue in the EU, particularly in the Mediterranean region, posing risks to the environment as well as to local and regional economies. The EU policy on water management is continuously evolving, particularly in relation to water scarcity and drought. Starting with the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), which sets the general policy framework for water management across the EU, the EC Communication on Water Scarcity and Drought COM(2007) 414 final set the priorities for managing water scarcity and drought risks. Three follow-up reports (COM(2008) 875 final, COM(2010) 228 final and COM(2011) 133) highlighted achievements and yearly progress within the context of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, whereas guidance has further been provided through the issue of Technical Reports (e.g. the EC Water Scarcity Drafting Group Technical Report 2008–023 on Drought Management, Including agricultural, drought indicators and climate change aspects). The 2012 EU Water Review (“Blue Print for Safeguarding European Waters” will assess achievements and identify further requirements towards long-term sustainable water use across the EU. However, a harmonized approach on drought risk management at the EU level is still lacking, whereas drought risk in several countries and regions has not been yet fully integrated in water management and relevant sectoral policies. This paper focuses on a proposed paradigm shift from crisis to risk management, which is currently gaining ground as a means of reducing societal vulnerability to droughts. The paper underlines the importance of engaging into risk assessment and management practices and identifies policy gaps and requirements for further improvement of the drought management policy framework at all levels of governance: at the EU, at the national and at the river basin and regional levels.
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