Increase the reuse of treated urban wastewater to prevent water scarcity
Better monitoring of chemical pollutants, pathogens and antimicrobial resistance
Producers of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to finance costs of additional treatment for micro-pollutants
On Thursday, Parliament adopted its position on new rules for the collection, treatment and discharge of urban wastewater to better protect the environment and human health.
The report was adopted with 420 votes in favour, 62 against and 84 abstentions.
MEPs want treated wastewater from urban wastewater treatment plants to be used more widely, for example in industrial processes and district and cooling systems. They also want EU countries to develop and implement “water savings and reuse plans”.
The adopted report includes stricter requirements for monitoring the presence in wastewater of numerous chemical pollutants, including the so-called “forever chemicals” (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS), microplastics, pathogens (such as viruses and bacteria) and antimicrobial resistance.
MEPs agree that producers of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics must contribute to covering the costs of additional treatment of micro-pollutants in urban wastewater, through extended producer responsibility systems.
More details are available in the press release following the environment committee vote.
After the vote, rapporteur Nils Torvalds (Renew, FI) said: “This is a big step towards cleaner water in Europe! With climate change, we are faced with great challenges around water and we need to make sure we manage our water resources well. With eutrophication, micro-pollution and droughts, every drop counts.”
Parliament is ready to start talks with national governments on the final form of the law, once the Council has adopted its position.
In October 2022, the Commission tabled a proposal to revise the urban wastewater treatment directive, aligning it with EU's policy objectives on climate action, circular economy and pollution reduction. The legislation is one of the key initiatives under EU’s zero pollution action plan for air, water and soil.
In adopting this report, Parliament is responding to citizens' expectations to tackle pollution and protect water sources, including through researching and fighting microplastics pollution, as expressed in proposals 2(2) and 2(7) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.