Earlier this week the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament approved the deal on the Drinking Water Directive, informs The European Sting. The Environment Committee has been involved in the Revision of the Drinking Water Directive since 2018. In December 2019, MEPs reached an informal agreement with the European Council to improve consumers’ trust in tap water and reduce plastic waste from bottled water.
Now the agreement has been approved by the Environment Committee. The new rule will tighten the threshold values for some pollutants and take into account emerging contaminants. It will also improve access to water by encouraging the provision of water for free in public buildings, and for free or a low fee to customers in restaurants.
In addition, the Committee adopted a resolution demanding correct implementation of EU water legislation. The European Commission has carried out a Fitness check of EU water legislation, concluding in December of 2019 that it is broadly fit for purpose, but implementation needs to speed up.
The MEPs concur with the assessment of the Commission, but point out that the objectives of the Water Framework Directive have yet to be met: half the bodies of water in the EU are still not in good condition. They highlight inadequate funding and enforcement, with slow implementation, as the reasons. Specifically, principles such as the precautionary and the polluter-pays principles are not applied as they should, and exemptions are too often used. The Environment Committee also calls for better integration of water policy with sectoral policies, particularly those of the agricultural, energy and transport sectors, to reach compliance with water legislation by 2027.
The next step would be a plenary vote in Parliament, both on the drinking water directive deal, and on the resolution demanding improved implementation of water legislation, to take place during the 14-17 December session.