Drinking water should become better and more accessible to all citizens throughout Europe, according to a 2013 citizens’ initiative that the European Commission plans to follow, according to a presentation outlining the Commission’s strategy on Thursday.
This is the first time that the European Commission has responded to a citizen petition that garnered 1.8 million signatures. The Right2Water initiative makes the legal claim that all people have the inalienable right to clean drinking water.
European tap water is clearly much better than its outdated reputation, and almost 100 percent of the bloc’s drinking water is safe, but only one in five Europeans believe in water purity outside their home country.
The Commission hopes to change their perception with the new initiative.
“People need to be able to fully trust that the water they consume…to make tea or coffee, is safe,” said Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment.
Good can get better
In order to improve water purity, Brussels is now expanding the blacklist of bacteria or industrial substances that could potentially dangerous if ingested and therefore filtered out of drinking water.
The European Commission will, in fact, take the initiative a step further by making it possible for every household to find exact information about water quality online. The declared goal is for EU citizens to drink more tap water, according to the Berlaymont, “if they do, households can potentially save more than €600 million a year,” adds Commissioner Vella.
Households and individual residents can save even more money by consuming cleaner public tap water as it costs less than one cent per litre, a fraction of the cost of bottled water. In order to assist poorer households, the Commission wants to get each EU member state to set up more public taps.
Cutting down on the number of plastic water bottles used by European residents would have a major impact on waste management and the environment in the bloc, as plastics disposal is a problem within the EU.
“Better water quality has reduced bottle consumption by an estimated 17 percent, meaning that fewer plastic bottles are used,” said Frans Timmermans, Commission Vice-President Thursday, while adding that EU restaurants and pubs should offer their guests tap water free of charge. “We did not think up a law that will force them to do this, but it would be a nice touch.”