In an interview on RTE This Week, July 3, 2016, Mr Ray Earle, an expert on the Water Framework Directive, says there is nothing in the Directive that says Ireland has to apply a direct billing scheme.
Mr Earle's view contradicts a recent communication from the European Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella to MEP Marian Harkin, in which he stated that Ireland no longer had an exemption from water charges, see article EC: Ireland has no exemption from Water Charges. In the communication Mr Vella also implied that the Commission could initiate infringement proceedings against Ireland if it abandons water charges.
Mr Vella's interpretation of the Water Framework Directive and his threats were recently pounced on by several Government Ministers in their condemnation of Anti Water Charge campaigners both in the media and in Dáil Éireann.
In fact both the present Fine Gael and former Fine Gael/Labour governments have used this Brussels' stick for quite some time. Now Water Charges turns out to be another austerity measure agreed by the Irish Government and the Troika.
For a full explanation see Marian Harkin's article 'Use it or Lose it'