Can you imagine some of the world’s most popular travel destinations such as Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Istanbul, Venice, Provence, the French Riviera, and Budapest having to shut down due to no drinking water? As unbelievable as that may seem, it has become a real possibility. Throughout its short history, the European Union (EU) has consistently downplayed many of its major problems such as the migrant crisis, terrorism, and the military threat from Russia. An ongoing problem, however, has emerged that will soon overshadow everything else: drought is again hitting the EU, threatening entire areas, particularly Southern Europe.
In 2022, drought conditions in Southern Europe were the worst in 500 years. In central France, for example, drought conditions were so severe that over a hundred towns had no water at all – no tap water – the water had to be trucked in by the local governments. This year the following areas near and within Europe are already affected:
- Spain (the entire country)
- Portugal (the entire country)
- Italy (parts of the north, Sardinia, and Sicily)
- The UK (parts of northern England and the north-western coast of Scotland)
- France (the southern part, particularly in Provence and the French Riviera)
- Bulgaria (the eastern coast along the Black Sea)
- Hungary (the capital, Budapest, and the Lake Balaton area)
- Romania (the eastern coast along the Black Sea)
- Poland (parts of northern Poland along the Baltic Sea)
- Finland (southern coastal area and parts of central Finland)
- Sweden (scattered areas throughout the country)
- The Baltic States (large parts of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia)
- Iceland (the northern part)
- Turkiye (mainly in the Istanbul, Turkish Riviera, and central areas)
- Morocco (the entire northern coast)
According to CNN World News in 2022, over 60% of the EU and UK experienced drought conditions. Unfortunately, the winter months provided little to no snow nor rain. As of May 2023, some European news agencies are reporting that only 20% of the EU’s land mass is experiencing drought conditions, but that figure is more than likely heavily understated given the carry-over of warm weather from 2022. Summer in the EU is only beginning, and is forecast to be extremely hot. The potential impact upon the EU’s and UK’s food supply could be catastrophic, driving up the cost of fruits, vegetables, and even meat products. Inflation is already a huge problem in the EU and in the UK, and this will only drive inflation higher.
Even though rainfall has occurred within the EU, it has been sporadic. When it does arrive, it falls quickly upon dry, parched earth that is so hard none of the rain can penetrate it, which is causing flooding and landslides. To make matters worse, another natural disaster is underway, particularly in Italy: salt water from nearby bodies of water such as the Adriatic Sea are now entering fresh-water rivers rendering them unfit for consumption.
The drought conditions within the EU started back in 2018 and have been getting progressively worse. Before the creation of the EU, individual countries took responsibility for water management issues. Now, they seem to view it as an EU problem, not theirs to solve. To date the only measures being discussed in the EU are paying compensation to farmers whose crops have been destroyed by drought. That is at best a short-term solution. The issue of water management is something that the EU can no longer downplay or ignore. Otherwise, entire countries particularly in western Europe may soon become unlivable – a very surreal prospect and not one that anyone wants to envision!