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DWD: Dantin's report considered by ENVI on 7 June

The ENVI Committee considered the report of MEP Dantin on the Drinking Water Directive on June 7.

If the Rapporteur could share the intentions behind the Commission’s text, Mr Dantin (EPP/FR) presented the main elements of his report, aiming at addressing the weaknesses of the European Commission proposal. These include:

  • the high monitoring frequency of parameters, whose costs are not fully factored in in the impact assessment,
  • some important practical aspects

The amendments tabled by Mr Dantin aim to follow more closely the WHO recommendations (Annex I) and to clarify responsibilities between the actors involved in the various levels of governance (art.8 and art 12).

He thought it was necessary to focus mainly on the domestic distribution systems in specific instances such as schools and hospitals (without extending the same provisions to all buildings).

On the issue of materials and products in contact with drinking water he noted that interesting views were being expressed by Member States in the Council. On the newly introduced article on “access to water”, he stressed the need to maintain water bills affordable.

Concerning the transparency provisions, his approach would favour a differentiation between the information available online and the more didactic information to be found in the water bill.  

For the socialist, the shadow-Rapporteur Rory Palmer (UK) reminded that the main driver of the legislation should be clean and affordable drinking water, also as an answer to the R2W ECI. He said that he would not accept a legislation that compromises public health and at the same time alarms and worries should be avoided, by finding a fine balance. He also pointed at the concerns arising from EDCs and PFAS supporting the European Commission approach and rejecting the report of the Rapporteur on these two points, although he appreciated the diligent work of Mr Dantin overall. Mr Palmer announced that his amendments will intervene on access and affordability.

On behalf of the conservatives of the ECR, Mr Dohrmann (DK) pointed at the reduction of water leakage as a main element of the new directive, since this has an impact on the quality of drinking water: maybe water is too inexpensive if leakage is so high. He thought that water suppliers should be compared on their performance on leakage and use of energy and investments should be optimised. He was of the idea that the access to water embraces a social dimension and should be left to the national level.

Ms Mueller (DE) spoke on behalf of the liberals, supporting the work of the Rapporteur. Apart for high quality drinking water, her amendments will intend to give consumer only the necessary information that would enhance their understanding. She was in favour of following a scientific approach when it comes to microplastics and maintained that the access to water should be left to the municipalities.

Mr Javor (HU) spoke on behalf of the Greens, taking a positive stance on the RBA, greater transparency and access to water (a must). He thought that the quality parameters are the cornerstone of the directive and did not agree with Mr Dantin on the values nor on the re-inclusion of the derogations. He maintained that EDCs and PFASs should not be dealt with in the WFD context. He also argued that more transparency would bring a higher level of water services.

For the EFDD (euro-sceptics) Ms Evi (IT) agreed with the approach of the European Commission to go beyond the WHO recommendations for the quality parameters. She was also in favour of clarifying roles and responsibility in the RBA. Sha called for public management of water and for tackling leakage.

The far-left (GUE) shadow rapporteur, Ms Boylan (IE), supported the Commission proposal on access to water, but she considered it an incomplete response to the “right2water” ECI. She pointed at affordability that should not be de-coupled with access, suggesting a maximum of 3% of households’ income to be spent for water services. She would also propose an amendment to widen the scope of art.1 since the objective of the directive should reflect the right to water. She agreed with more transparency but she found art14 too prescriptive and subsidiarity could play a role there. On the sampling frequency she was in favour of the scheme currently in place for the RBA and she also was in favour of following the WHO recommendations for the parameters.

The far-right shadow rapporteur, Ms Goddyn (EFN), remarked the importance of subsidiarity. In her views the proposal did not bring true changes, but just extra-costs for customers. On the issue of pharmaceuticals and EDCs, she mentioned the example of Lausanne. She also stressed that the access to water is a Member States competence. She spoke against free water but insisted on access to water at affordable prices.

In the debate that followed, Mr Florenz (EPP/DE) supported the general direction of Mr Dantin’s report. He made reference to the issue of microplastics, and the sampling. On the issue of the ‘contact materials’ he would like a solution to be found by changing the Commission’s strategy without creating administrative burden at EU level.

Mr Demesmaeker (EPP/BE) called for more clarity on the technical items under consideration: materials and products and the Annex I parameters. He supported the direction of Mr Dantin and called for re-instating the 2015 sampling and monitoring frequency.

Along the same lines Ms Ries (ALDE/BE) noted that the monitoring frequency proposed was not sensible and she backed Mr Dantin’s report. She would also support the WHO parametric values and asked the Commission why there was a differentiation between big and small supplies concerning the RBA timelines.

Ms Schreijer-Pierik (EPP/NL) also supported the Rapporteur’s approach, especially on the issue of contact materials, where she would include a deadline for the European Commission to come up with a delegated act. She also referred to the need for more subsidiarity and the pollution of water resources by Dupont in the NL, backing the UBA proposal for action under REACH.

Mr Grammatikakis (S&D/HL) pointed at the importance of functioning infrastructure and asked for more harmonisation. He also referred to the increasing problems of water availability due to droughts.

Mr Huitema (ALDE/NL) criticised the Commission for the deletion of art.10 of the current directive and called for more harmonisation concerning contact materials. He underlined the need to re-instate the derogations and clarify art.12. He also raised the attention on the administrative burden that the requirements on information might cause.

Having the floor to answer MEPs intervened in the discussion, MR Dantin made it clear that he was against opening the scope of the directive (amending art.1).

Mr Malgaj answered on behalf of the Commission, reiterating the support for a first reading agreement under this legislature of the European Parliament. He outlined the main pillars of the Commission proposal:

  1. ensure better health protection
  2. promote better governance through the RBA
  3. enhance sustainability and transparency of the services
  4. grant access to water

In response to the criticism on the costs deriving from an increased sampling frequency he said that the Commission was open and ready to clarify and modify it according to what is needed following the RBA. He also addressed the issue of materials: he recognised that a solution could be found in a better involvement of the Regulators in setting the thresholds, but he defended the DG GROW approach under the Construction Products Regulation. DG ENV was against having provisions by which they would be compelled to find a solution for materials in contact with DW under the DWD.

On the derogations he drew a clear line between new and existing parameters: only for the new parameters the Commission would be open to discuss the re-inclusion of derogations.

He criticised the report from Mr Dantin for the replacement of the PFAS total (proposed by the Commission) with the PFOS and PFOA. The Commission is also against the approach of the rapporteur for EDCs: they want to see threshold values attached to them.           

He also saw the provisions on transparency as a way to empower the consumers.

The deadline for Amendments it is set to the 13 June at 11.00 CET.

The vote in the ENVI Committee is scheduled for 10 September in Strasbourg.

The Plenary vote is foreseen during the week 1-4 October.

 

Carla. Water matters, EU matters. 

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