Human right to water still waiting after 12 years of promises

EPSU Right2Water logo

(Press Release - Brussels 02.02.24) On January 23rd the European Commission and the Council issued a press release announcing new hygiene rules for materials and products in contact with water. These new rules will come into force in December 2026. The aim is to reduce of harmful risks in drinkable water.

EPSU, the main organiser of the right2water European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI), welcomes such rules. Enhancing the stringency of the Drinking Water Directive concerning PFAS, microplastics, and other harmful chemicals is a positive step. There have been numerous scandals surrounding such substances in drinking water lately.

The European Commission argues that these new rules are a response to the right2water ECI. EPSU wants to clarify that the human right to water is not simply a matter of water quality. The right to water entitles everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use. The right to sanitation entitles everyone to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU General Secretary and ECI citizens’ committee Vice President states:The European Commission has not acted with legislation to introduce the right to water. It has taken some measures to protect vulnerable groups but this is a very partial response. The Commission has a new opportunity to address the human right to water and sanitation in its forthcoming Water Resilience Initiative. Many EU countries are facing droughts and flooding and 2023 was the hottest year on record. This should also prompt the commitment in the European Pillar of Social Rights. We expect the Commission to consult with the Right2Water. We recall that water policies would never be the same after the first ever successful ECI.

EPSU has sent a letter to the European Commission President on this issue.

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For more information: Pablo Sanchez (EPSU), [email protected] 0032 474626633

Background

The Council  press release Urban wastewater: Council and Parliament reach a deal on new rules for more efficient treatment and monitoring - Consilium (europa.eu)