Current Situation

Today, there a different developments on EU and national level concerning the harmonisation of standards for materials and products in contact with drinking water.

For updates on those developments, see also the "News" section.

EU activities

Start 2015: Review of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD)

The European Commission announced a review of the Drinking Water Directive in March 2014 and included this in its 2015 Working Programme.

As part of this review, the Commission published an evaluation report in December 2016. This report recognised that the art. 10 has led to the proliferation of different national certification systems leading to technical barriers to trade, unnecessary burden for the industry and increasing disparities between national standards on materials and articles in contact with drinking water.

In the course of this review, two main studies were commissioned:

  1. The ECORYS study to support a possible revision of the EU drinking water policy and the current Drinking Water Directive.

    The "Evaluation", the first part of the study, was released in July 2016 and it recognised that article 10 of the Drinking Water Directive has not been effective in ensuring harmonised standards and free circulation of substances and materials in contact with drinking water.

    The second part of the study, the final "Impact Assessment Report", was published in April 2017.

  2. The WRc study on substances and materials in contact with drinking water.
    The final report, together with an impact assessment study, was released in March 2017

The work on the Refit Evaluation of the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC started. The results are expected in December 2017.

Start 2017: A new attempt to draft standards for construction products in contact with drinking water

The Commission decided to issue new Mandate(s), replacing M/136, to harmonise standards for construction products in contact with drinking water. The Commission has launched the process in October 2017 and EU standardization bodies should deliver their first results by the end of 2018.

In EDW's opinion, an umbrella standard or a framework technical specification defining the scope of all products in contact with drinking water is needed from the Commission. It should cover all aspects of BWR 3 assessments that are similar for metals, organic materials and cementitious products. 

Furthermore technical specifications for the installation and/or the design of water supply systems inside buildings are desirable in particular to identify which products have a significant impact on water quality and therefore should cover BWR 3 in the product standards.  

These additional specification work should however not delay the mandate to develop the product standards for metals in contact with drinking water (organic materials and cementitious products will follow at a later stage).

National activities

In addition to the national regulatory authorities, which implement the EU regulation in each Member State, voluntary initiatives between some Member States have developed to achieve a greater harmonisation of national requirements for products in contact with drinking water.

The 4MS Initiative

Four EU Member States (France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom), the “4MS” announced in January 2011 that they have formalised arrangements to work together with the objective to reach a ‘Common Approach’.

The objective of the ‘Common Approach’ is to harmonise tests and testing requirements ensuring that products in contact with drinking water are suitable to maintain the hygienic safety of drinking water.

The work on the ‘Common Approach’ is currently ongoing.

Portugal has already been granted the status of Candidate Member and could be the 5th MS to support a Common Approach.

In 2017 EDW became the exclusive industry partner of the 4 MS Initiative and is working in the 4 MS Task Group "Common Approach Minor and Assembled Products Testing" (TG CA MAPT).

The Portuguese notification

As a consequence of their involvement as a Candidate Member, in April 2015 the Portuguese Ministry of Economy, issued a notification through TRIS of a regulation for an approval scheme for products in contact with water intended for human consumption.

Although the Portuguese notification has not, as yet, been published as a national regulation, the scheme is perceived to reflect the current status of the 4MS progress and has been used as the basis for development of an industry proposed scheme within the EDW.

The Nordic project MAID

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden initiated the MAID project (Material and product innovation through knowledge based standardization in drinking water sector) in 2014 with the objective to foster innovation and harmonisation in the drinking water sector.

Therefore, standards and guidelines should be identified regarding rationality, practicability and safety to ensure quality for placing materials and products in contact with drinking water on the market.

Industry and national authorities work together on this project to develop a Nordic common acceptance scheme for products in contact with drinking water.

The first report (Report 1) "Nordic drinking water quality" and the second report (Report 2) "Regulations and approval systems in the Nordic countries" were published in November 2017.

Common Approach

Documents related to the "Common approach" and more information on the 4 MS initiative.