The pressure on the European paper industry to further close its water circuits has increased significantly during the past decade. Since the technologies of the past can no longer meet the requirements of the future, new water treatment methods have become necessary. A constant rise in the interest in membrane technology expressed by the European paper industry confirms that in the future this method will evolve into a key technology for continued water savings. The publication provides an overview of current and future applications of membrane plants in the European paper industry. A range of technologies is briefly presented together with their advantages and drawbacks, and the economic potential of membrane use is discussed. Among other topics, the authors take a look at the utilization of membrane filtration for treating internal circulation water, partial flows containing coating colours, and biologically treated effluents. The technologies addressed include ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and membrane bioreactor technology. Possible recovery and treatment routes for the concentrates produced by the nanofiltration of biologically treated effluents are examined and evaluated.