Finland starts implementing EU’s new Drinking Water Directive
Finland has started implementing Directive (EU) 2020/2184 on the quality of water intended for human consumption, also known as the Drinking Water Directive.
The most important objective of the Directive is to ensure healthy drinking water. This will be achieved by examining the quality requirements for drinking water that are defined through risk management. Risk assessment must take into account the entire water production and distribution system, from raw water to tap water supplied to consumers. The quality recommendations for drinking water are, as a rule, updated in accordance with the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The risk assessment and management of the entire water production chain allow the authorities and plants supplying drinking water to identify more ways to manage the health risks related to the supply of drinking water.
Risk assessment also covers domestic distribution systems. In addition, the Directive contains provisions on the lists of materials that can be used to make products that come into contact with water intended for human consumption. Such products must also bear a marking when placed on the market, indicating that the products are fit for use in contact with drinking water.
One of the core ideas behind the Directive is to increase the transparency of water supply. For example, users must be provided with further and more up-to-date information on drinking water both online and in connection with their water bills.
The implementation of the Drinking Water Directive requires that the provisions of the Directive be reconciled with those of the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), the circular economy be promoted and energy consumption be reduced.
Legislation to be reformed in many administrative branches
The implementation of the Directive calls for many legislative amendments across several branches of government, particularly in the administrative branches of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. At first, it will be assessed what legislative amendments need to be made to implement the Directive and then the necessary legislative amendments and decrees will be prepared.
The aim is to send the draft government proposal on legislative amendments out for comments in March 2022 at the latest. Finland must bring the legislation into force and communicate its text to the European Commission by 12 January 2023.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health was responsible for the preparations, and it is also responsible for the national implementation of the Directive. The Ministry has appointed a steering group to prepare the national implementation of the Drinking Water Directive. The term of the working runs from 15 February 2021 to 31 December 2022. The steering group will set up sub-groups to prepare the legislative amendments required by the Directive. It will also outline the content of the draft bills and decrees, the rationale for them and the schedules for preparing them.
A negotiated solution was reached on the content of the Drinking Water Directive during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in December 2019. The Directive entered into force on 12 January 2021, and it must be implemented nationally within two years of its entry into force.