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As my investigation of water related issues continues, I spoke to Satu Hassi, an MEP from Finland since 2004 and formerly Finland’s Environment Minister.

It seems as though water has become a much more important policy area in EU affairs in recent years. Why do think this is, and what direction do you see it developing in?

There are many reasons. Among them are changing weather patterns leading to more intensive summer draughts in some areas and excessive rainfall and even winter floods in some others, as well as increased pressure to water resources from several types of agricultural and commercial activities.

Are EU governments taking water policy seriously enough at the moment? What more could they do?

Some of the issues where I would like to see improvement are 1) increasing efficiency in the way we use water, 2) restoration of natural flood control systems, as wetlands and natural flood basins, 3) reducing emissions of phosphorus and nitrogen to the Baltic Sea – which is one of the most polluted sea areas in the world.

What is the role of your party and the European Parliament in making this real?

We have to remember these issues in the decision making of all relevant legislation. One issue which I have tried to raise to the agenda is reducing flows of nutrients from agriculture in the Baltic Sea catchment area to the sea.

Satu Hassi has a track record in climate and environmental policy as Finland’s former environment minister and a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. She is a member of the Parliament’s Environment Committee, where some of her major achievements have been the rapporteurship on the effort-sharing decision of greenhouse gas emission reductions, included in the climate and energy legislation package in 2008, and rapporteurship on timber regulation, which outlawed placing on the market of illegally logged timber. In addition, she is vice president of the European Parliament’s Water Integroup.

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