Drinking water – high quality demanded throughout Europe

Thanks to the EU's Drinking Water Directive issued in 1998, the water in most European countries is of very good quality. But the European Commission estimates that there are still 23 million Europeans who have no access to a basic water supply.1 In rural areas, especially, many inhabitants do not have access to a water connection. The WHO (World Health Organisation) assumes that 14 people in Europe die every day from diarrhoea resulting from inadequate water and sanitary provision.² That means a basic supply must be guaranteed and it also means the quality standards in the countries must be brought to the same level.

For this reason the European Commission is now working to revise the previously applicable legal provision and alter it to suit the current situation.³ The main quality standards given in the Drinking Water Directive for microbiological and chemical parameters have not been updated since 1998 and do not fully reflect the scientific progress and improved risk evaluation or the changes in behaviour and environmental pollution.4


The aim is to ensure that all EU citizens have access to high quality drinking water.


The aim is to ensure that all EU citizens have access to high quality drinking water. One important aspect is the improvement of water quality by ensuring that the list of criteria for determining water safety includes new and newly occurring substances (such as Legionella and chlorate). The position of consumers should also be strengthened by requiring water suppliers to provide detailed information on water quality, consumption and cost structure.

By increasing the use of tap water for drinking it is hoped that households across Europe will save 600 million euros; a massive reduction in plastic waste could also be achieved.1 Furthermore, health risks associated with contaminated drinking water ought to be permanently reduced.