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Proposed water charges in breach of spirit of EU’s Water Framework Directive claims Independent MEP

Press Release

Sunday 27 Apr 2014

Independent candidate Nessa Childers MEP said that she believes that the water charges being proposed by the Irish Government are in breach of the spirit of the EU’s water framework directive (WFD).

“The WFD seeks to protect water quality and stop wastage, and I am not at all certain that the government is fulfilling this promise with their proposals.

“Access to clean healthy water should be a right for everyone.  Any proposal to charge for water should ensure that households have an adequate quota that is free.  We also need to ensure water conversation is encouraged and rewarded.  Blunt charges and standing charges do not comply with the spirit of the WFD in my opinion.  Therefore I cannot support the charges as they stand.”

“I am also very concerned about the lack of transparency around the Irish Government’s plans for water charges and about the future of water supply in Ireland, we need a guarantee that the service will be kept in public ownership.”

Earlier this year Nessa Childers spoke in the European Parliament at a public hearing for the first ever Citizen’s Initiative which calls for the right to water to be enshrined in EU law.

Nessa Childers warned against selling Irish Water to private enterprise and said the EU must guarantee that all its citizens have access to a clean and health water supply

Speaking at the hearing in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee on the 17th February, during the debate titled ‘No liberalization of water services’, Nessa Childers also told the hearing: “A number of member states such as my own, Ireland, have implemented water charges and centralized the water sector as part of the bailout packages imposed by the troika. Irish citizens could be potentially left with higher bill prices and lower quality water. The issue also is that we keep control of access to water as a right for all citizens and that we do not commodify or liberalize access to water.”

“At a time where our citizens are still experiencing the effects of the economic crisis and the harsh austerity policies, the challenge and key question here lies in the affordability of water bills. High quality water is only good if everyone can afford it.  It deserves the status of a human right.

“We need to know what measures, if any are in place to improve the participation of users and civil society in the decision making processes on access to water?