Oh! Mr Gormley. 'Established Practice', the Water Framework Directive and Article 9.4

Who else is better placed to answer all questions regarding Ireland's Water Policy and the Water Framework Directive than Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, parties who were in key government from it's inauguration including negotiations of Ireland's 9.4 exemption, through to the collapse of the Irish economy, 2008 and capitulation to Troika's pressure and finally the adoption in 2010 of the first River Basin Management Plan 2009-2015.  

John Gormley, former leader of the Green Party. 

John Gormley, former leader of the Green Party. 

The following is an extract from Dáil Questions and Answers, March 2009.  Here we see Joanna Tuffy, Labour, Dublin Mid West pressing the Dept of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, Green Party, on Article 9.4 of the Water Framework Directive 2000 and asking him to apply the 'opt out' clause.

John Gormley was Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the Fianna Fáil led Government, 2007-2011.

Joanna Tuffy was a Labour Party TD from 2007 to 2016 and a former Senator.   The Labour Party went on to flip-flop on their position on the Water Charges' issue.


Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Water Charges,

Written answers
Thursday, 26 March 2009

Joanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)

Question 170: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he has taken to opt out of Article 9(1) of the Water Framework Directive that requires the recovery of water charges by Member States starting from 2010, that this will include Ireland having to charge domestic charges, unless Ireland makes a case in writing for opting out of charging for domestic water charges to the European Commission by December 2009; if he will ensure that Ireland formally requests that it opt out in time by December 2009, particularly in view of the fact that he sought a clause providing that Member States could opt out from charging for domestic water when the Water Framework Directive was being negotiated by Member States; if he will explain what is meant by the statement by the Government to the Commission that he is merely reflecting on the implementation of Article 9; if this statement means he intends that Ireland will introduce water charges from 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12685/09]


John Gormley (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dublin South East, Green Party)

The Water Framework Directive was adopted on 23 October 2000. Article 9(1) of the Directive requires Member States to take account of the principle of the recovery of the cost of water services, including environmental and resource costs. However, Article 9(4) of the same Directive stipulates that a Member State will not be in breach of the Directive if it decides, in accordance with established practices, not to apply these provisions where it does not compromise the purposes and the achievement of the Directive's objectives.

The Local Government (Financial Provisions Act) 1997 removed the authority of water services authorities to levy charges for water services on domestic users. The Water Pricing Policy, subsequently agreed by the Government in November 1998, requires local authorities to recover the full cost of providing water services from the users of these services, with the exception of households using the services for domestic purposes. There is no requirement, therefore, for the Government to take steps to opt out of Article 9(1) given that the established practice at the time of the adoption of the Directive was not to levy charges on domestic users.

Under the Directive, the island of Ireland is divided into eight River Basin Management Districts. Management Plans for these districts must be published no later than 22 December 2009 and submitted to the European Commission within three months of publication. The Management Plans must include details of cost recovery, in accordance with Article 9. Draft River Basin Management Plans for the eight River Basin Districts in Ireland were published in December 2008 by the respective management authorities.

Source; www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2009-03-26.1042.0

Article 9.4 Water Framework Directive 2000

4.      Member States shall not be in breach of this Directive if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply the provisions of paragraph 1,  secondsentence, and forthat purpose the relevant provisions of paragraph2, for a given water-use activity, where this doesnot compromise the purposes and the achievement of the objectives of this Directive.  Member States shall report the reasons for not fully applying paragraph1, second sentence, in the riverbasin management plans.