Commission welcomes provisional agreement for more thorough and more cost-effective urban wastewater management

The Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement reached today between the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal revising the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. This revised directive will substantially strengthen the protection of human health and the environment from harmful discharges of urban wastewater. It will also lead to cleaner rivers, lakes, groundwater and seas all around Europe.

With the new measures in place, more nutrients will be removed from urban wastewaters and new standards will be applied to micropollutants. The directive will now apply to a broader number of areas as it will also cover smaller agglomerations starting at 1,000 inhabitants.

Following the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the new law will ensure that the costs for this protection will be partially covered by the responsible industry, rather than by the water tariffs or the public budget. In addition, it will drive the wastewater sector towards energy and climate neutrality. It will also improve the management of storm water, which will become more and more important in view of increasing heavy rainfall events due to climate change.

Finally, it will ensure access to sanitation in public spaces for the two million most vulnerable and marginalised people in the EU. This is in line with requirements set under the recently adopted revised Drinking Water Directive, which requires access to water for all.

The European Parliament and the Council will now formally have to adopt the new Directive before it can enter into force. It will then enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Member States will then need to start working on the implementation of the requirements and send first updated national implementation programmes in 2026.