Water Regulatory Governance across Europe – Report

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WAREG presents its latest paper, an analysis of the water governance in Europe from 26 Members and Observers.

The governance has been analysed highlighting 3 main aspects for each country:

  • The Regulator analysing its history, mission and responsibilities;
  • The Legal Framework, analysing the most relevant laws regulating the sector in each country or region;
  • The Institutional framework, analysing the set of actors regulating the sector in each country or region,

This paper has been drafted by WAREG using its network of Members and Observers and is part of a series of reports that will be published throughout 2021 and 2022 on the water and wastewater sector in Europe.

Introduction and a message from the President

The application of economic regulation theory and tools to the water sector is relatively new in most European countries. Only after the year 2000, with few exceptions, new regional and national authorities were created or received new competencies to supervise the efficiency and quality of water and wastewater services in Europe.

In the same year, a Directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to establish a single framework for Community action in water policy; the so-called EU Water Framework Directive set target standards to protect water resources and to promote their efficient usages. Today, the water resources of our Continent are also protected by other European Directives and Regulations, that however, need to be adapted to the pressing challenges, from climate change to water availability. Universal access to water can be hampered not only by “natural” incidents like droughts or floods but also by “structural” factors, like the poor conditions of water infrastructures or the inadequacy of water services.

In WAREG, the European Association of Public Authorities with supervisory and tariff-setting powers on the drinking water and wastewater sectors, we are aware that access to water is a right and an essential service for the almost 330 million citizens under the supervision of our Members. As regulators, we also know that the provision of high-quality drinking water and wastewater services depends on high capital and operational costs that need to be recovered, whether through tariffs, taxes or transfers, at economically affordable prices for households.

Local institutions often decide final prices for water services, and the governance arrangements influence them at the national or the regional level. In WAREG, we exchange best practices on the different regulatory tools used in Europe to balance the needs of the customers and the water industry while promoting innovation and environmental sustainability.

I am glad to launch the WAREG report series, aimed at informing water sector experts and stakeholders, European Institutions and International Organisations on the role of water regulatory agencies vis-à-vis the EU water policy, the water industry, the customers and the preservation of water resources.

Andrea Guerrini – WAREG President