9.4 Water Exemption (Water Framework Directive) - Use It or Lose it

 

Use It Or Lose It

An all out effort is needed  immediately from political parties who oppose water charges and from  anti water charge groups throughout the country to guarantee that Section 9.4 of the Water Framework Directive is retained. 

This 9.4 section includes the Irish Exemption or derogation which was negotiated by Ireland in 2000 and transposed into Irish law in 2003.  The section exempts Ireland from billing domestic consumers for water, allowing us to fund our water infrastructure through general taxation.  It is now imperative that provision for this derogation be included in the ongoing revision of Ireland's next phase of the River Basin Management Plan. 

Marian Harkin, MEP, in her article 'Use It or Lose It' said  “Furthermore, and most importantly, Ireland still has to submit its second River Basin Plan in which it can activate the derogation for water charges.”

The Irish Exemption is now under threat. 

Recent political maneuvers, misinformation and threats from Fine Gael,  the Eu Commission and Irish Water Ltd, telling us that our exemption no longer exists and that Ireland is going to be penalised if we do not adhere to the WDF Directive and impose Water Charges,  is partly a smokescreen and partly bully boy tactics.  We believe that the threats and misinformation are not true, that they are designed to deflect our attention away from the fact that the Government is now in the process of revising the River Basin Management Plan for the period 2015-2021 - see full details at www.environ.ie.   This revision had been delayed due to significant reform in the water sector in recent years and the new plans would be delivered by the end of 2017.  

We believe that former Minister of the Environment,  Alan Kelly,  did not include a continuation request for our derogation in the draft plans  but more sinisterly, he included the provision for billing domestic consumers (Water Charges) and also for the Irish Water Ltd infrastructure.  If this is the case and the RBMP is submitted to Brussels unchanged, it could possibly do away with the Irish Exemption thus making water charges legally binding under European law.

It is imperative now before the new RBMP is finalised that this is investigated.  Pressure must to be put on Minister Coveney to come clean about the contents of any revised plan especially in relation to the Irish Exemption, the method of funding and the model of water infrastructure.   It would seem obvious that any revised plan can not be finalised or submitted until an agreed water management structure is in place.   We must not allow our derogation to be surreptitiously given away.

Fianna Fáil must support this call
Fianna Fáil has a major responsibility in this process to ensure that our derogation remains in tact and that the Government is not doing anything to jeopardise it.   Fianna Fáil's 'Core Principle' on Water Charges,  their commitment to the electorate, their position and legal advise on the Water Framework Directive and their responsibility in agreeing the setting up of a minority Fine Gael Government, should make it incumbent on them to ensure that the derogation remains and that the process is clear, open and transparent.

 Sean Flemming

Sean Flemming

Sean Fleming, on Fianna Fáil website 'EU Water Directive does not force imposition of water charges – FF',   insisted that the Water Framework Directive does not bind Ireland to the imposition of domestic water charges and that Fianna Fáil absolutely contests the advice being put forward.   He says "It’s important to recognise that this legal advice was commissioned by Irish Water, and it should be examined with caution in light of this.  However Member States have a clear opt-out clause (Article 9.4) from domestic water user charges, which allows that Member States may “take account of the social, environmental and economic effects of water usage in recovering the costs of water services.  Fianna Fáil position on water charges has not changed. We do not support the continued imposition of water charges on households."


It is also incumbent on all other TDs who support the Anti Water Charge campaign to scrutinise the 9.4 Water Framework Directive and the RBMP, to support this call and demand that Ireland includes the provisions for the derogation to remain in it's second River Basin Management Plan.   
 

Ireland has to make sure it uses our hard won exemption or it will lose it.

 

References:
Water Charges required under EU Law is a lie Kathy Sinnot, Nessa Childers, Fliuch
Irish Politician trying to blame Brussels on Water Charges no legal basis Marian Harkin
Use It Or Lose It says Marian Harkin
To Pay Or Not To Pay Marian Harkin
Ireland Has No Exemption European Commission
Expert on Water Framework Directive Contradicts EU RTE This Week Ray Earle
Ireland's Water Charges Exemption Is Safe Unless Alan Kelly Gives it Away Pensive Quill
"Bullying the populace into submission" - TDs aren't happy about Enda's comments on water charges Journal.ie
Dept of Environment Water Framework Directive http://www.environ.ie