Analysis of affordability of drinking water in European member states
It has been universally recognized that access to clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right. In the EU the European Citizens’ Initiative “Right2Water” challenges whether the provision of drinking water and sanitation services (WSS) is affordable for all. Future investments, either due to replacement of ageing pipe infrastructure or additional provisions in the proposal for a revised Drinking Water Directive, put an upward pressure on water tariffs. The proposed new article 13 aims to address this and “obligates member states to take all to take all measures necessary to ensure access to drinking water for vulnerable and marginalised groups” (COM(2017)753 final). To adhere to this new article, invest in infrastructure and at the same time achieve full cost recovery it is of utmost importance to know to what extent the rates can be raised without jeopardizing the affordability of water. However, existing affordability standards offer little leverage on that challenge as they lack quantitative justification and are often arbitrary in their nature. This study investigates what indicators can be applied to measure drinking water affordability in a more reliable and economically justified manner.