Water Resources Management

, Volume 31, Issue 8, pp 2375–2387

Water Services are the Bridgehead for a Return to Publicly Owned Utilities in Europe. A Comparative Analysis



Although for decades all across Europe numerous privatization phenomena have involved utilities, today the European Union appears on the edge of a profound change and water services are undoubtedly the bridgehead of a new model. Firstly, in a comparative perspective the present analysis aims to find some clues of the new trend at the national level. In particular, it moves from a case-based approach in order to carry out a wider exam of the relevant regulatory schemes. It thus focuses on the referenda concerning water supply services that took place in Italy and Germany. Plus, it studies local government decisions on the matter in the context of a debate regarding public companies, as in France. Secondly, the present paper gives an overview of the current water regulatory framework at European level. Directive 2000/60/EC gives a peculiar definition of water as a heritage rather than a commercial product as any other. Directive 2014/23/EU excludes water sector from the scope of the new concession regulatory scheme, given that water is a public good of fundamental value to all Union citizens. Besides, Directive 2014/25/EU clearly states that no by no means Member States are obliged to externalize the provision of water services, if they prefer to organize them in ways alternative to procurement. Eventually, the present article stresses out the new favourable background for re-publicisation processes set forth by the current European Union law.


Water services France Germany Italy Regulation Public utilities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Researcher in Administrative Law at SP.I.S.A.University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.University of VeronaVeronaItaly

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