Watchdog pinpoints EU countries that need to improve drinking water

18 Sep 17

Further public and private funding in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania are needed to ensure drinking water is brought up to EU standards, a report by the European Court of Auditors has found. 

The three countries have to invest more than €6bn by the end of 2020 to cover these needs and meet the standards of the 1998 EU Drinking Water Directive, the spending watchdog concluded.  

Access and supply of drinking water had overall improved in the countries, largely due to EU investment in recent years, the report found. 

“Financial support from the EU budget to these water networks has been substantial, but it should not replace expenditure by the member states,” said George Pufan, member of the ECA responsible for the report. 

There are still areas in the three nations where water from the public supply is not compliant with EU standards and additional funding will be required to ensure that EU-funded water facilities can be maintained. 

Between 2007 and 2020, the European Development fund and Cohesion Fund support for the supply and management of drinking water in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania will total €3.7bn. 

EU funding is mainly sourced through the European Structural and Investment Funds.

During 2007-2013, more than €7.3bn was allocated to projects across the EU involving drinking water, with about €4bn dedicated to the EU13 member states – including Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

A total of €4.7bn has been allocated to drinking water for the period ranging between 2014 and 2020, with €3.4bn earmarked for the new EU member states.

The 1998 EU Drinking Water Directive lays out the standards of the quality of water for human consumption. 

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