Jump to content


Questions to the European Commission regarding water charges and privatisation

News item

Wednesday 5 Nov 2014

“Earlier this year I took part in a hearing in the European Parliament on the Right to Water. The hearing was in response to citizens concern about their ability to access water services.  See the Right to Water campaign website to learn about the issue.  In order to get information relevant to the situation in Ireland, I have placed the following two questions with the European Commission”  Nessa.

Priority Question to the European Commission regarding Water Framework Directive obligations and water charges

The Water Framework Directive requires that each user must bear the cost of consuming water, and that adequate water pricing for usage must act as an incentive for the sustainable use of water resources in order to achieve the environmental objectives under the Directive.

Under the Directive, Member States are required to ensure that the price charged to water consumers, both domestic and non-domestic, for the abstraction and distribution of fresh water and the collection and treatment of waste water – reflects the true costs.  The Directive allows that Member states may take account of the social, environmental and economic effects of water usage in recovering the costs of water services.

Therefore will the Commission describe the various schemes, or methods, allowed to member states to comply with the legal obligation to recover the cost of water services under the Water Framework Directive?  Can the Commission also specify if cost recovery for domestic users must be linked to individual consumption?

Question to the European Commission regarding privatisation of water services

Should the citizens of Ireland decide via a referendum, to insert the following clause into the Irish Constitution:

“The State shall treat drinking water as an essential resource and in the interests of the common good the State shall not provide for the privatisation or commercialisation of water services for the people”.

Would this clause be in breach of the Lisbon Treaty and or EU competition rules?