Sunday

19th Nov 2017

EU commission to rewrite water laws after citizens' campaign

  • Sefcovic said 'we have been ambitious in our response,' but Right2Water said it is 'lacking ambition' (Photo: Andrew Mason)

The EU is set to re-write its legislation on access to drinking water, the European Commission said Wednesday (19 March), in response to a pan-EU campaign backed by 1.8 million people.

"We will launch an EU-wide public consultation on the drinking water legislation in view of improving access to quality water in the EU," Maros Sefcovic, the EU's administrative relations commissioner, said.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"No doubt this will lead to a revision of the existing legislation," he noted, adding that "citizens have been very ambitious in their demands and we have been ambitious in our response".

The Right2Water campaign collected 1.8 million signatures and was backed by a string of NGOs and by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU).

The petition is the first to successfully use the so-called European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), introduced in 2012 as part of the Lisbon treaty, which lets 1 million or more EU citizens task the commission with consideration of new laws.

It calls on the EU executive to ensure that EU law guarantees the right to water and sanitation, including a minimum supply to all Europeans regardless of their ability to pay.

There have been complaints in several countries about citizens having their water supply cut after being unable to pay their bills.

Commenting, Sefcovic that the EU executive would urge governments to offer a minimum water supply to all citizens of at least 20-25 litres of drinking water per day, in accordance with recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

The initiative calls for legislation to set a 100 percent target for good quality water and sanitation across the EU by 2016, with sanctions for countries that do not comply.

It also calls on the EU executive to exclude water services from internal market rules and to keep them out of any trade agreement it negotiates.

But the campaign group accused the commission of “lacking ambition”.

“The reaction of the European Commission lacks any real ambition to respond appropriately to  the expectations of 1.9 million people” says Jan Willem Goudriaan, vice-president of the ECI Right2Water.

“I regret that there is no proposal for legislation recognising the human right to water.”

But Sefcovic said that the Commission's hands were tied by the EU treaty, which leaves most decisions on water provisions in the hands of local and national government.

Agenda

EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK

EU ministers will vote on where to relocate two EU agencies from the UK, while later EU leaders will host six eastern European countries in Brussels. Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic awaits his verdict in the Hague.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse