Safer drinking water for all Europeans

Commission proposes revised European legislation which will improve the quality of drinking water and access to it 

The European Commission wants to continue to ensure the provision of high-quality drinking water in light of the latest scientific advice, and to help consumers access this water and find reliable information about its supply. Safe drinking water is essential for public health and well-being, and water contamination or shortages can have serious social and economic costs.

The right to access essential services of good quality, including water, is one of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights unanimously endorsed by Heads of State or Government at the Gothenburg Summit on 17 November 2017.

This is the reason why the Commission has adopted today a legislative proposal which aims to guarantee this right and thereby responds to the first-ever successful European Citizens’ Initiative, “Right2Water”, that gathered 1.6 million signatures in support of improving access to safe drinking water for all Europeans.

The new rules will require Member States to improve access for all people, especially for vulnerable and marginalised groups who currently have difficult access to drinking water. In practice, that means setting up equipment for access to drinking water in public spaces, launching campaigns to inform citizens about the quality of their water and encouraging administrations and public buildings to provide access to drinking water.

Another important change in the legislation will give the public easy, user-friendly – including online – access to information about the quality and supply of drinking water in their living area, improving confidence in tap water. According to estimates, the new measures would reduce potential health risks associated with drinking water from 4% to below 1%.

Lower consumption of bottled water can in addition help households in Europe save more than €600 million per year. With improved confidence in tap water, citizens can also contribute to reducing plastic waste from bottled water, including marine litter.

Better management of drinking water from Member States will avoid unnecessary loss of water and contribute to lowering the CO2 footprint.

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