Tuesday

24th May 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Technical witness tells EP diesel cheating not necessary
  2. Poland presents 'solutions' to constitutional crisis
  3. Greek bailout without IMF not an option, says Dijsselbloem
  4. Germany's Bayer makes offer to buy US giant Monsanto
  5. Greece evacuates Idomeni migrant camp
  6. Austria: far-right candidate defeated
  7. EU boosts Mediterranean naval campaign
  8. Greece to evacuate Idomeni migrant camp

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  2. Innovators Under 35Meet MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Award Recipients from Belgium on 25 May, 6pm
  3. Open EuropeJoin the Brussels Brexit Debate on Wednesday, 25 May at 5:00 PM
  4. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  5. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  6. CEDEC - Covenant of MayorsWebinar on 25 May - Electric Vehicles Development: The Role of Local Entities
  7. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  10. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan
  11. World VisionCash-based Programming to Address Hunger in South Sudan:
  12. Belgrade Security ForumOpen Call for Applications! Join the Events Team at the 6th Belgrade Security Forum.

Latest News

  1. Austria vote is wake-up call for EU left
  2. Poland vows solution to judicial crisis
  3. Terrorists likely stockpiling explosives in EU, says Europol
  4. EU navies to help Libya coastguard stop migrants
  5. Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel
  6. EU and Poland in last minute talks on rule of law
  7. Tough challenges ahead for Austria's president
  8. Search for VW compensation larger in EU than in US