Review of the drinking water directive

The European Commission adopted on 1 February a proposal for a revised drinking water directive to improve the quality of drinking water and provide greater access and information to citizens.

The proposal for modernizing the 20 year old drinking water directive (98/83/EC) comes as a result of the REFIT evaluation, the implementation of the Commission’s response to the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water’ and as a contribution to meeting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Main elements:

  • The proposal updates existing safety standards in line with latest recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and ensure our drinking water is safe to use for the decades to come.
  • It will empower authorities to better deal with risks to water supply and engage with polluters.
  • It will empower consumers by giving them much more information and oversight over the efficiency and effectiveness of water suppliers.
  • It contributes to the transition to a circular economy. It will help EU countries to manage drinking water in a resource-efficient and sustainable manner so as to reduce energy use and unnecessary water loss. It will also help reduce the number of plastic bottles following increased confidence in tap water, improved access and promotion of use of drinking water.
  • The proposal is a direct reply to the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water‘. The Commission had committed to evaluate the Drinking Water Directive and to launch an EU-wide public consultation on the quality of drinking water in order to assess the need for improvements and how they could be achieved. Following this consultation and in line with the principles of the new European pillar of social rights, the proposal contains an obligation for EU countries to improve access to safe drinking water for all and to ensure access for vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Key documents:

More information:

Have your say:

Citizens and stakeholders can share their views on the Commission’s proposal via the Have Your Say website until 29 March 2018. The proposal will be transmitted to the European Parliament and EU Council for negotiation and adoption before it becomes applicable.



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