Europe is facing one of its toughest years for extreme weather conditions affecting many countries

Europe could face one of its toughest years in terms of drought as extremely dry weather hits several Mediterranean countries.

That was the warning from EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, who told lawmakers on Thursday that “the current drought in Europe could be the worst ever”.

Several EU member states, including Greece and Italy, are already being hit by extended drought conditions, adding to concerns across Europe for the coming months.

Last month it was reported that an exceptionally early heatwave in France and Spain could weigh on the wheat harvest after a particularly dry spring.


Italy is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years and authorities fear a prolonged drought could lead to serious shortages of drinking water and irrigation, affecting local populations across northern Italy.

In June it was reported that water levels in much of Italy’s largest river, the Po, were so low that local residents walked through the middle of the sandy expanse and shipwrecks reappeared.

In a park near the village of Gualtieri, cyclists and hikers stopped to look at the Zibello, a 50-meter barge that transported timber during World War II but sank in 1943. The ship is usually under water.

Portugal and Spain

On Friday, the Portuguese government declared an eight-day state of alert over an increased risk of forest fires, with the drought-stricken country bracing for temperatures as high as 43C. This brings with it “a significant deterioration in wildfire risk” through July 15, government agencies said.

Restrictions passed on Friday include blocking public access to forests considered critically endangered. In 2017, more than 100 people died in forest fires in Portugal.

At the end of June, 96% of the country was classified as “extreme” or “severe” from drought.

Temperatures in some parts of Spain, meanwhile, are expected to soar to 42C this weekend.

The country’s reservoirs are operating at an average of 45% capacity, according to government data, a worrying development for an EU member state that rained just half its 30-year average in June.


Earlier this week, Romanian authorities urged the population to limit water consumption as severe droughts strain resources needed for power generation and agriculture. Romania is one of the largest grain producers in the EU.

Romania’s Environment Minister Barna Tanczos told reporters that drinking water should be conserved while watering gardens and filling swimming pools should be limited, with water levels in the country’s 40 main reservoirs expected to fall from 82% today to 68% by the end of July . and 70% of the country is currently affected by drought.


Earlier this month, France’s EDF said persistently high temperatures and insufficient river water used to cool nuclear reactors could force it to reduce its nuclear output before returning to the river at a higher temperature.

Regulations are in place to limit reactor production during periods of exceptional heat and low water levels.

“We are having a special year due to the early onset of drought, particularly in south-east France. But this year there’s generally a little less water available,” Catherine Laugier, EDF’s environmental director, said at a July 5 news conference.


Greece suffered some of Europe’s most devastating wildfires in August 2021, and many fear the country will experience similar fires in the future.

In June, wildfire raged out of control on Euboea, Greece’s second-biggest island, highlighting the growing risk, and on Thursday Šefčovič said the EU is already funding the deployment of over 200 firefighters from across the bloc to tackle the fires in Greece .