The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called for measures to discourage disproportionate water use. Specifically, the committee called for a stop to water privatisation and wants to see measures that motivate citizens to make mindful use of this finite resource.

However, the EESC says it regrets that the European Commission’s proposed update of the Drinking Water Directive does not clearly recognise the universal right of access to drinking water and sanitation called for by the ECI initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The WHO model, based on minimum quantities of water per person per day, could be a viable option, argues the EESC.

While welcoming the Commission’s proposed update of the Drinking Water Directive, particularly since it is the first legislative response to a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) – specifically the Right2Water initiative – the EESC believes it fails to address all the complex issues linked to water.

“Drinking water is a primary good which is not only essential for the health, well-being and dignity of every human being but also indispensable for economic and productive activity,” said Gerardo Larghi, rapporteur of the opinion. “We consider water – including groundwater and hydrogeological basins – as a primary public good, and believe large natural water reserves should no longer be privatised.”

The EESC proposes that EU member states adopt specific measures to facilitate access to drinking water for vulnerable and marginalised groups, particularly people in disadvantaged and remote rural areas.