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Everything flows: New drinking water directive strengthens environmental and consumer protection

drinking water

Tuesday, the European Parliament discussed the amendment of the European Drinking Water Directive in its second reading and adopted it in plenary session.

EDP Executive Vice-President Ulrike Müller had a decisive influence on the legislative process as shadow rapporteur for her parliamentary group and was able to push through important improvements in the interest of municipal water suppliers. Consumer and environmental protection were increased. Müller is satisfied and sees many of her core demands fulfilled.

The update of the 20-year-old legislation decisively pushes environmental and consumer protection. The amendment updates health-relevant limit values and improves consumer information in the future. Ulrike Müller predicts that the new directive will strengthen consumer confidence in drinking water quality: "We have introduced a watch list for emerging pollutants. Ambitious rules for old lead pipes and harmonised regulation of drinking water contact materials improve health protection for all consumers," explained Ulrike Müller.

Ulrike Müller also notes significant progress for the protection of water bodies and natural drinking water resources: "Thanks to the risk-based approach, we will be able to combat contamination at the source in the future. Here, Parliament was able to assert that prevention must come before containment."

Ulrike Müller is particularly concerned about municipal water suppliers and cooperatives: "These many small water suppliers have to work with the directive in practice. That is why I am glad that we were able to solve many problems of detail in the negotiations with the Council and the Commission in order to ensure that they can be implemented in the daily business of the water suppliers," Müller praises the results achieved. She considers the new directive overall a success for the parliamentarians and for her Renew Europe group: "I am happy that my group played an important role in terms of the ambitious approach on lead. We also introduced the watch list for growing pollution problems such as microplastics, pharmaceutical residues and endocrine disruptors." It was Müller who commissioned the Commission to develop a methodology for measuring microplastics.

In her speech in the Brussels plenary, Ulrike Müller stressed that the Commission's proposal for a new Drinking Water Directive was a response to the first successful European Citizens' Initiative: "This new directive is thus a milestone of European citizen participation."

The citizens' initiative Right2Water collected 1.6 million signatures in support of improved access to clean drinking water for all Europeans. The revision of the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC was included as a direct follow-up in the Commission's work programme for 2017. Deliberations started in the European Parliament in spring 2018. The European Parliament completed the 1st reading before the end of the 2014-2019 mandate and the European elections. The trilogue negotiations with the Council and the Commission were concluded almost exactly one year ago, and the result of the negotiations was confirmed by the Council in 1st reading last October. With the 2nd reading in the Parliament, the new Drinking Water Directive will be concluded.