Floods can cause injury and loss of life, considerable economic costs, and damage to the environment and cultural heritage. Serious floods have become more frequent in Europe. In recent years, more than twice as many flash floods of medium to large magnitude have been registered as in the late eighties. Climate change is an aggravating factor, triggering changes in precipitation and weather patterns, sea level rises and, consequently, more frequent and severe floods.
In response to the rising incidence of flooding, the EU adopted in 2007 the Floods Directive. We found that the Floods Directive had positive effects overall, but that the implementation of flood prevention measures suffers from weaknesses in allocating funding. Member States have begun implementation of Flood Risk Management Plans, but improvements are needed. Major future challenges remain concerning the need for much fuller integration of climate change, flood insurance and spatial planning into flood risk management.