EU policy background

In Europe, there are many dams that are old, abandoned and out of use, constricting rivers and causing havoc on freshwater biodiversity. Today, most European rivers are no longer free-flowing and freshwater migratory fish such as eels, sturgeons and salmon are going extinct because they are unable to reach their breeding grounds. We've already lost 93% of migratory fish in the last 50 years - the highest loss rate in the world. (source: World Fish Migration Foundation, The Living Planet Index (LPI) for migratory Fish, 2020).

On 22 June 2022, the European Commission presented its proposal for the new Regulation on nature restoration. It contains new obligations for Member States to remove the redundant barriers blocking rivers, and to restore the floodplains, but without time-bound targets.

We call on the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to strengthen the proposed nature restoration Regulation:

  • Member States should be required to restore 15% of river length (178,000 km across the EU) into free-flowing rivers by 2030 through barrier removal and the restoration of the related floodplains.
  • The European institutions should be required to expand the EU financial support available for free-flowing river restoration.

Read more about the main policy asks of the Living Rivers Europe coalition.