25/11/19Global Issues 

PRESS RELEASE Drinking Water Directive: EU Council Failing to Empower Citizens

Brussels, 26 November 2018

The European Council is set to fail EU citizens by refusing to give people power to have vital information about their water supplies.


Despite water being essential and a Human Right, the Council is refusing to give citizens the possibility to compare different water services, assess their performance and be informed to make their own opinions. 


Measures to increase transparency about citizens’ water services were proposed in the revision of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD) last year. But last week (19 November), at the third trialogue meeting on the future DWD, it was clear the EU Council will block further empowerment of citizens through clear transparency obligations.


Indeed, so far the inter-institutional discussions showed that Europeans would only be able to access information related to water quality, but no other vital information about their water services. AquaFed genuinely fears such a negative outcome for EU citizens.


Neil Dhot, Executive Director, AquaFed, said: “We warmly welcome the introduction of higher ambitions on access to water for all Europeans, and a renewed directive to better protect public health.


“But the EU Council looks set to fail to answer the demands of EU citizens for more transparent water management. There really has been a very loud and clear message from citizens and water sector organisations but the Council is doing the opposite.


“Private water operators believe citizens have the right to know how water resources are being locally managed and how well these services are being performed. A high level of transparency not only empowers citizens and creates a level playing field, but it also helps the public better understand the challenges at stake, especially in the context of climate change.


Last year, AquaFed proposed a basic set of water service indicators that could be uniform across the EU, to inform people to compare their services.


On 1 February 2018, the European Commission released a proposal to revise the 20-year-old Drinking Water Directive and introduced obligations for Member States to provide online information on important issues including the tariff structure, the volume consumed per household, the average consumption of households, statistics of consumer complaints, the leakage rate, the energy consumption, planned investments to modernise water infrastructure, and the water operator’s governance. 


All of these requirements would provide European citizens with highly valuable information about their local water supply and fully empowers them. The European Parliament approved, through a vote in plenary in October 2018, most of these requirements. However, there has been a strong opposition coming from the Council where some Member States attempt to weaken the Commission and Parliament’s ambition by imposing their veto on Article 14 and Annex IV.


March 14th 2015


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    Attached Ressources

    • Press release | 17/02/14 | AquaFed calls upon the EU to be more active in implementing the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation