European Commissioners are due January 31 to approve draft language showing willingness to mandate measures to increase access to drinking water including setting up and maintaining outdoor and indoor water taps in public spaces. Free provision of drinking water in restaurants, canteens, public buildings and by catering services “will be encouraged”.
Such areas of regulation have historically been reserved to the legislatures and regulatory regimes of European Union states.
A copy of a draft directive published online by Politico, (titled “Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Quality of Water Intended for Human Consumption") refers to drinking water being “the focus of the first ever European citizens' initiative “Right2Water'”, which collected over 1.8 million signatures and to which the Commission responded positively”.
This 2013 citizens’ initiative urged in particular that “EU institutions and Member States be obliged to ensure that all inhabitants enjoy the right to water and sanitation” and that “the EU increase its efforts to achieve universal access to water and sanitation”.
The draft directive relates that “In its response, the Commission invited Member States to do everything they can to ensure everyone has access to a minimum water supply. This is fully in line with (the European Union’s) Agenda 2030, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 6 and the associated target to “achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”, which were adopted in 2015.”
The initiative is described as “part of the plan to transition to a circular economy…the revised proposal will help Member States manage drinking water in a resource-efficient and sustainable manner, thereby helping to reduce energy use and unnecessary water loss. It will also help reduce the number of plastic bottles we use by improving people's confidence in tap water”.
The proposal’s measures are described as not having budgetary implications for the European Commission but would be implemented under existing allocations for the Commission and the European Environmental Agency.