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CJEU finds against Ireland on drinking water
Pic: Court of Justice of the European Union

25 Jan 2024 / cjeu Print

CJEU finds against Ireland on drinking-water directive

The EU’s highest court has ruled that Ireland has failed to meet its obligations under an EU directive on the quality of drinking water.

The action, taken by the European Commission, centred on the levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) found in certain public water-supply zones and group water schemes.

The commission argued that Ireland had failed to take the measures necessary to ensure that water intended for human consumption met the minimum requirement relating to concentrations of THMs present in the water supply.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found that, by failing to ensure that the necessary remedial action was taken as soon as possible to restore the quality of the water, Ireland had failed to give priority to its enforcement action.

17-year period

The court said that, although Ireland was free to define the methods used to implement the directive, it had to comply with all of its provisions, and ensure that THM concentrations in drinking water did not exceed the threshold throughout its territory.

The judges also ruled that the commission had provided enough evidence in support of its case to show that the failures to implement the directive were “persistent”.

The court also noted that the deadline for member states to comply with the directive had been 17 years before the commission’s finding against Ireland on THMs, adding that Ireland had not availed of the option of a derogation provided for in the directive.

“The court notes ... that neither the geographical, geological or environmental factors, nor the requirements under planning and/or environmental rules invoked by Ireland can constitute situations of force majeure justifying the fact that that member state has not complied, nearly 17 years after the date set under article 14 of Directive 98/83, with its obligations under that directive,” the judgment stated.

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