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News article12 November 2021Representation in Ireland

European Commission refers Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union over unsafe drinking water

The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive (Directive 98/83/EC).

Drinking water: Child drinking water from bottle

The Directive requires Member States to ensure that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean. It requires that drinking water is free from micro-organisms and parasites, and from substances which could pose a potential danger to human health.

The European Green Deal sets a Zero Pollution ambition for the EU. Full implementation of the standards enshrined in EU legislation is important to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.

In Ireland, the level of the chemical substance trihalomethanes (THMs) in drinking water has long exceeded the parametric value established in the Drinking Water Directive in a number of water supply zones across the whole country. Drinking water provided in 30 water supply zones in Ireland, serving a population of more than 200 000 citizens, continues to exceed the safe levels of THMs. These chemicals are formed in drinking water due to the disinfection process. Exceeding the parametric value of trihalomethanes can entail potential risks to human health.

The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Ireland in 2018, followed by a reasoned opinion in May 2020. The reasoned opinion concerned 44 water supply zones across the whole country. Since the reasoned opinion, 30 water supply zones remain in breach of the THM value.

Whilst the Commission welcomes the fact that Ireland has made progress in addressing elevated levels of THMs in the drinking water, today, more than three years after the opening of the infringement case, a number of water supply zones still do not comply with the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive. The Commission is therefore referring Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Further in its regular package of infringement decisions adopted today, the European Commission pursued legal action against Ireland for failing to comply with its obligations under EU law in the following areas:

Fisheries

The European Commission decided to open infringement proceedings against Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands concerning non-compliance with obligations regarding the control and enforcement of the landing obligation under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013) and the Control Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009). Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands failed to ensure the control and enforcement of the obligation that all catches of species subject to catch limits and species subject to minimum sizes are brought and retained on board fishing vessels, and then recorded, landed and counted against quotas, where applicable. the Commission has decided to send letters of formal notice to the Member States concerned, which have two months to respond to the letter and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion.

Free movement of services:

The European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Belgium, Cyprus and Ireland as they have not adopted yet, fully or partly, national measures implementing Directive 2018/0958 on a proportionality test before adoption of new regulation of professions. The deadline to implement the Directive into national law was 30 July 2020. The European Commission also addressed Ireland with a supplementary reasoned opinion. In November 2019, the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Ireland regarding the non-conformity of their national legislation and practice with EU rules on the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC). On the basis of the Irish reply to the reasoned opinion, the Commission identified a new grievance related to the application of Directive 2005/36/EC for the professions of gas installers and electricians from other Member States.

Member States concerned have now two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Radioactive waste

The European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Ireland concerning a national programme for radioactive waste management it adopted which is not entirely compliant with the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Directive (Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom). It requires Member States to draw up and implement national programmes for the management of all spent fuel and radioactive waste generated on their territory, from generation to disposal. The national programme notified by Ireland was found to be non-compliant with certain requirements of the Directive. Ireland now has two months to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the European Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Anti-Money Laundering

The European Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Ireland for an incomplete transposition of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. Despite the fact that the transposition deadline for the 5thAML Directive was 10 January 2020, on the date of adopting the reasoned opinion, Ireland had declared only partial transposition of the Directive. The European Commission assessed the notified national measures and concluded that Ireland had not completely transposed the obligation to fully identify who actually holds or controls payment accounts and bank accounts and safe-deposit boxes. Without a satisfactory response from Ireland within two months, the European Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

 

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Publication date
12 November 2021
Author
Representation in Ireland