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Boylan refutes misleading information on water charges

31 May, 2016 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has today reacted to RTE’s coverage of her question to the question on water charges and the EU derogation available for all Member States in the Water Framework Directive.

‘RTE are being utterly misleading in its coverage on this issue. The Commission have not in fact confirmed that Ireland cannot use the derogation and furthermore, it is also patently incorrect to insinuate that Ireland is the only country not to price water. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and France are all countries to have made use of the derogation.

‘Either their informant is leading them up the garden path or our state broadcaster is attempting to influence the debate with deliberately ambiguous information which could have come straight from the press office of Irish Water.

‘On the 7th of April I submitted a very straightforward question to the Commission to get confirmation that the derogation to not bring in water charging policies cannot be removed unless there is a change in EU legislation.

‘After exceeding the deadline by over three weeks and blocking the response due to pressure from the highest levels within the institution, the Commission has now been embarrassed into publishing a vague response after I published a press release on this political intervention yesterday.

‘It is clearly regretting its previous statements on this issue which has confirmed that Member States can still use the derogation and even that there is no specific requirement for cost recovery to rely on individual consumption. It is now grasping at straws and create confusion regarding so-called ‘established practices’.

‘It is crystal clear that Ireland’s established practice is to recover costs through general income tax. Irish Water and its water charges on the other hand have been in place for little over a year and moreover, entirely fail to cover any costs apart from billing! RTE’s claims that Irish Water is now our country’s ‘established practice’ are laughable.

‘Ireland still has the possibility to use the derogation from water pricing as many other regions and countries have done across the European Union. It is clear that cost recovery does not require water pricing, as is the case in Scotland.

‘If the Department of Public Expenditure and reform or the Department of Housing have even a single shred of legal evidence between them which proves the contrary, I urge them to publish it immediately.

‘I am more than happy to debate this issue with anyone from RTE, Irish Water, the European Commission or the Irish government.’


NOTES: Full text of the question/answer:

Question for written answer P-002793/2016 to the Commission

Rule 130

Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL)

Subject:      Flexibility provisions in Article 9(4) of the WFD

Can the Commission confirm that unless the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is amended accordingly by legislative review, the flexibility provisions as set out in Article 9, paragraph 4, of said Directive remain available to Member States?


Answer given on behalf of the Commission


Article 9(4) of the Water Framework Directive[1][1] provides that Member States shall not be in breach of the Directive if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply the provisions of Article 9(1), second sentence, and for that purpose the relevant provisions of paragraph (2), for a given water-use activity, where this does not compromise the purposes and the achievement of the objectives of this Directive. If the established practice is to have a system in place implementing the recovery of the costs of water services, in accordance with the polluter pays principle, the Commission considers that the flexibility afforded to Member States as outlined in Article 9 paragraph 4 would not  apply.

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