On the initiatives of Commissioners Bangemann, Kinnock and Cresson, the European Commission established in June 1995 a number of research/industry task forces to improve RTD results in priority areas. Since then, two additional task forces have been created in the following areas: "Maritime systems of the future" and "Environment with a particular focus on water". The environment/water task force, recognizing the demand for water in the EU and the likely problems in water management in the 21st century, has now identified four priority areas in which research efforts should be concentrated. These are: - The fight against pollution: improvement of knowledge of water pollution, and development of methods and technologies for water treatment; - Rational use of water (demand management): promotion of reuse/recycling of water, and development of water conservation techniques; - Fight against water deficits: concentration on solving the problems of countries, particularly in southern Europe, which will always have limited water reserves; includes development of rainwater collection and desalination techniques; - Prevention and management of crises: development of preventative and forecasting techniques, and development of emergency systems for water supply to populations affected by flooding or severe pollution. The aim of the task force is to encourage cooperation and coordinate RTD actions in these priority areas, leading to increased results through a concentrated and targeted approach.