This investment priority covers water infrastructure, and in particular infrastructure to implement the EU acquis.

Key messages

Access to safe drinking-water is a basic human need.

Important social benefits accrue from investment in water management and treatment. Industrial development and wealth creation depends on a safe, reliable and well-managed water supply. A safe supply of drinking water and systems to treat wastewater are among the most effective and cost-effective investments in economic and social development. Where high quality water is available, urban and rural developments thrive.  However supplies also have to be available and affordable for all income groups to avoid unhygienic practices.

The majority of public health effects arising from water management relate to microbial or chemical contamination of drinking water. With tourism as a major activity and economic sector in Europe, clean recreation bathing water is also an important public health issue. Water shortages and supply interruptions have been problems in some EU countries.

The EU has a comprehensive acquis of legislation, which includes standards for drinking water and detailed requirements for wastewater treatment. Requirements for safe recreational bathing water are another important element. An overall goal of EU water legislation is to protect clean water across Europe and ensure its sustainable use.

Structural Funds are used to finance projects for drinking water treatment as well as wastewater treatment. Large infrastructure projects in these areas are funded by the Cohesion Fund, and smaller ones by the ERDF.