Discussion in Brussels: materials in contact with drinking water

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50 experts discussed the best way forward to regulate materials in contact with drinking water.
Source: Elena Elisseeva / Thinkstock

With Karl-Heinz Florenz (member of the European Parliament, European People's Party), Ingrid Chorus, director of the department for drinking water at the UBA, opened a breakfast session on the topic of materials in contact with drinking water. On 7 June 2018, 50 experts from EU institutions, the EU member states and associations discussed the controversy surrounding the proposal by the Commission.

In the scope of the revision of the Drinking Water Directive, on 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a set of proposals which also include regulations concerning materials in contact with drinking water. According to the EU Commission, in the future, materials and products in contact with drinking water should be governed by the Construction Products Regulation. However, UBA would prefer the regulations to form part of the Drinking Water Directive. 

“The proposal of the EU Commission to revise the Drinking Water Directive missed the opportunity to establish specific hygiene guidelines with the aim to guarantee the quality of our drinking water,” explained Ingrid Chorus, director of the department for drinking water at UBA. UBA also takes the view that materials which come into contact with water as our key foodstuff should be regulated equally stringently as is food packaging. 

Birgit Mendel of the German Federal Ministry for Health explained the 4-MS-Initiative of four EU member states, i.e. France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany. The 4-MS-Initiative addresses the harmonisation of their requirements for hygiene standards for materials and products in contact with drinking water, targeting their mutual recognition within the EU. The four member states do not consider the Construction Products Regulation to be the appropriate instrument for the complex hygiene requirements to safeguard drinking water. Rather, requirements for this target need to be incorporated directly into the Drinking Water Directive. Representatives from the Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg also support this target of the 4-MS-Initiative, as well as the European Drinking Water Alliance (EDW) and the EU delegation of the Association of Water Providers (EurEau). 

The representatives of the Commission defended their proposal. The EU Commission expressed its view that the control of and quality guarantees for drinking water are sovereign tasks of the member states.