EU adopts minimum quality standards for drinking water

The position should be voted at the European Parliament

For ensuring that tap water across the EU is safe to drink, on Friday the Council formally adopted its position at first reading to revise the drinking water directive. The position is based on the compromise reached in the negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament, facilitated by the Commission.

The revision is a direct result of the first-ever successful European citizens' initiative 'Right2Water'. Under the new rules, the quality standards for drinking water are brought up to date, and a cost-effective risk-based approach to monitoring water quality is introduced. The Council also introduced hygienic requirements for materials in contact with drinking water, such as pipes. The improvement of the quality of such materials should ensure that human health is protected and no contamination takes place.

I am pleased that we were able to propose an update of water quality standards, introduce a risk-based approach to the monitoring of water, improve water quality information that is provided to consumers and improve the access to water for EU citizens, said Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany.

The Council's position also addresses growing concern about the effects of endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals and microplastics on human health by introducing a watch list mechanism. The watch list will allow the EU to follow up, in a dynamic and flexible way, on new knowledge about these substances and their relevance for human health.

This position will now be transmitted to the European Parliament for announcement at the EP Plenary, vote at the Environment Committee and then, as a final step, vote by the EP Plenary. In accordance with the letter of 18 February 2020 sent by the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety to the Chair of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, the European Parliament should, at second reading, approve the Council's position at first reading without amendment.

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