February 18, 2019

Safe drinking water for all Europeans

Brussels, February 1, 2018

The revised EU legislation proposed today by the European Commission will improve the quality and accessibility of drinking water and the public with better information.

The right of access to essential quality services, including water, is one of the principles of the European pillar of social rights endorsed by Heads of State and Government unanimously during the Gothenburg Summit.

The legislative proposal adopted today is designed to ensure that law is a response to the European citizens, “Right2Water“, where 1.6 million signatures collected to support improved access to safe drinking water for all Europeans. Moreover, this proposal seeks to strengthen the position of consumers by requiring water companies to provide consumers with clearer information about water consumption, the cost structure and the price per liter in order to allow comparison with the prices of bottled water. This will help to achieve two environmental goals, namely reducing unnecessary use of plastic and reduce the EU’s carbon footprint and to achieving the goals of sustainable development.

European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The citizens have their voices heard through the European Citizens’ Initiative, which calls for action for guaranteed access to safe drinking water. Therefore, today we propose to modernize EU legislation, improve the drinking water quality and to facilitate access for citizens where it is most effective.”

Vice President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, added to this: “With this proposal, we facilitate the transition to a circular economy, and we help the countries to manage water efficiently, this implies a reduction of energy and water wastage. With improved transparency will strengthen the position of consumers and are more likely to make more sustainable choices, for example, to use tap water.”

Most people in the EU have a very good access to high-quality drinking water. The Commission wants to ensure that in the long-term quality is maintained because new and emerging substances are added to the list of criteria for determining flood (such as Legionella and chlorate). These additions are based on the latest scientific findings and the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

Under the new rules, Member States should improve access for all people, especially vulnerable and marginalized groups facing difficult access to drinking water. In practice this means the establishment of drinking water in public spaces, organizing campaigns to inform the public about the quality of their water and to encourage governments and public buildings to provide access to drinking water.

Lower consumption of bottled water also contributes to the households in Europe save more than EUR 600 million per year. When the citizens have greater confidence in tap water, it can also contribute to the reduction of waste from plastic water bottles, and so on marine litter. Plastic bottles are among the most common plastic disposable articles on European beaches. 


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