Brussels signals shake-up of water Directives

Proposals to amend four key EC water Directives are under active consideration by the European Commission. The review is likely to provoke heated and lengthy disputes, notably over the controversial Directive on drinking water, where Brussels appears intent on resisting far-reaching reforms being demanded by water companies and the UK.

The review looks set to be the biggest development in the EC's water policy since the major Directives on water protection were adopted in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is also likely to provide the first practical test of the principle of subsidiarity.

The review was promised at the Edinburgh summit in December, when the Commission undertook to "simplify, consolidate and update existing texts, particularly those on air and water, to

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