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Nieuwsartikel12 januari 2023Directoraat-generaal Milieu

Zero pollution: Improved quality and access to drinking water

Image of clean drinking water

Today new requirements on the quality of and access to drinking water are becoming the norm across the European Union, with the revised Drinking Water Directive now transposed into national legislation. The new rules will ensure one of the highest standards in the world for drinking water, in line with the zero pollution ambition announced in the European Green Deal. This also responds to the first-ever successful European Citizens' Initiative, "Right2Water", which gathered 1.6 million signatures in support of improving access to safe drinking water for all Europeans.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginius Sinkevičius said:

As of today, Europeans can be confident that the quality of the water they are drinking is of the highest standards. We are tackling dangerous chemicals and microplastics that end up in drinking water, making it safe for us to drink, and safe for the environment. I hope that with improved confidence in tap water, citizens can also contribute to reducing plastic waste from bottled water and marine litter.

To ensure the high quality of drinking water, the Drinking Water Directive includes updated safety standards, introduces a methodology to identify and manage quality risks in the whole water supply chain, establishes a watch list of emerging substances such as microplastics, endocrine disruptors, as well as new types of chemicals to be monitored and introduces conformity provisions for products to be used in contact with drinking water. The new directive tackles water leakages as now on average 23% of the treated water is lost during distribution in the EU. The Directive also includes new provisions that require Member States to improve and maintain access to drinking water for all, and for vulnerable and marginalised groups in particular.

The transposition of the recast legislation into national law will improve the protection of human health for all EU citizens and contribute to protecting the environment from the release of these harmful substances. Member States will have to communicate to the Commission the text of the main provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.


A high percentage of European citizens already have immediate access to clean and safe drinking water at an affordable price. However, some EU citizens are still facing challenges regarding access to safe drinking water.  Emerging phenomena such as increasing water scarcity, droughts, as well as new substances such as pharmaceuticals or micro-plastics potentially can also threat human health.

To address these new challenges, the Commission had proposed an update to the Drinking Water Directive, which originally dated from 1998, to preserve the quality of drinking water in the longer term and to protect consumers from these new potential risks. The proposal was adopted by the legislators in 2020 as the recast Drinking Water Directive and entered into force on 12 January 2021. Member States had to transpose it into national law and comply with its provisions by 12 January 2023. The recast Drinking Water Directive is part of the overall EU water policy, including, for example, the Commission’s recent proposals on the revisions of the Environmental Quality Standards Directive, the Ground Water Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

Global access to safe drinking water will be discussed, among others, at the UN Water Conference in March 2023.

More information:

Drinking Water Directive -

Webpage on the Drinking Water Directive

Press release (16 December 2020) Final agreement on quality and access to drinking water (

Press release (1 February 2018) Safer drinking water for all Europeans (


Datum publicatie
12 januari 2023
Directoraat-generaal Milieu

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