Floods

Floods in Europe

Since 1998, floods in Europe have caused in the region of 700 deaths, the displacement of about half a million people and at least €25 billion in insured economic losses. Between 1998 and 2004, Europe suffered over 100 major damaging floods, including the catastrophic floods along the Danube and Elbe rivers in summer 2002. Protecting the community from the risk and impact of flooding is at the heart of the European Floods Directive. Introduced in 2009, it provides a new approach to managing flood risk on a catchment wide scale.

European Floods Directive

Protecting the community from the risk and impact of flooding is at the heart of the European Floods Directive (2007/60/EC). Introduced in 2009, the Floods Directive provides a new approach to managing flood risk on a catchment wide scale.

Distinct preparatory stages

The Directive requires 3 distinct preparatory stages:

  • Article 4 of the Directive required that each member state undertook a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA) for their respective territories by 22 December 2011.
  • Article 6 of the Directive required that each member state should prepare Flood Hazard and Flood Risk maps for significant risk areas by December 2013.
  • Article 7 of the Directive required each member state to prepare Flood Risk Management Plans by December 2015. The Flood Risk Management Plans highlight the flood hazards and risks in the most Significant Flood Risk Areas in the member state from flooding from rivers, the sea, surface water and reservoirs. They identify the measures that will be undertaken over the next 6 years to address flooding and they set out how the relevant authorities will work together with communities to reduce the flood risks.

Flood Risk Management Plans

The publication of the Flood Risk Management Plans marks the start of the implementation phase of the first cycle of Plans.

European Union Floods Directive

Recognising the continued risks of flooding, the European Commission drafted the Flood Directive. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted Directive 2007/60/EC on the assessment and management of flood risks. The directive entered into force on 26 November 2007.

Directive aims

The aim of the directive is to reduce and manage the risks that floods pose to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

The Directive applies to inland waters as well as all coastal waters across the whole territory of the European Union. Transposition must be complete by November 2009.

Member States were required to draw up a series of documents as follows:

  • preliminary flood risk assessments by 22 December 2011
  • flood hazard maps and flood risk maps by 22 December 2013
  • flood risk management plans by 22 December 2015.

Meeting the Directive requirements

The requirements of the Directive can be met through the production of:

  • one plan covering all of the flood risks, or
  • a series of plans covering different risks (subject to their coordination at river basin district level).

Coordinating plans at the river basin district means that to fully comply with the terms of the Directive, regional Member state´s plans must be developed and coordinated in parallel with other regions of the same Member state with close boundaries.

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