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Question to the European Commission regarding legal advice about domestic water charges in Ireland

News item

Tuesday 29 Mar 2016

Dublin MEP Nessa Childers has tabled a Question to the European Commission today to seek clarification on the legal situation regarding domestic water charges and Ireland’s obligation under the Water Framework Directive.


In its answer of 5th December 2014 to Parliamentary Question EN P-008827/2014, when queried as to whether, under the Water Framework Directive, cost recovery for domestic users must be linked to individual consumption, the Commission stated that there is no specific requirement in Art 9 of the WFD for cost recovery to rely on individual consumption, provided the conditions foreseen in the Directive are met.

However, privately commissioned legal assessments quoted as recently as today, claim that Irish government policy decisions under the remit of the Water Framework Directive – and which predate the Commission’s response above – have entailed a lapsing of ‘established practices’ for the purposes of compliance with the Directive by the Irish state, particularly as regards discretion in the application of the provisions of article 9, foreseen in its paragraph 4.

Could the Commission therefore confirm the continued validity of the entirety of its answer of December 2014?

More precisely, could the Commission clarify whether, by virtue of any policy developments falling under the remit of the Directive since the Commission’s answer above, Ireland does not currently meet the legal conditions for the recovery of costs for water services without relying on individual consumption?