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Water Services in Selected Central and Eastern European Countries

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Water Governance: Policy and Practice book series (PSWG)


Water services in Central and Eastern European countries have experienced important transformation processes since the 1990s. After a first wave of wholesale reforms of the economic systems after the collapse of the Soviet Union (decentralization and private sector involvement), more recent reforms try to address specific water-related challenges which many countries in the region encounter on their way to EU accession. To tackle issues like rising tariffs, low quality and performance, limited access, and insufficient infrastructure maintenance, the creation of dedicated regulatory bodies and that of aggregation reforms have been two key reform approaches.


  • Water Services
  • Water Sector
  • Private Sector Participation (PSP)
  • Chronic Underinvestment
  • Territorial Fragmentation

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-98515-2_10
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  1. 1.

    In this chapter we use CEE to refer to the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine. While not all countries in CEE were part of the Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc, for example, socialist Yugoslavia and its successor states, the close political and economic integration had strong effects on all countries in the region.

  2. 2.

    See Savedoff and Spiller (1999), for an in-depth presentation of the concept of low-level equilibria in the water sector.

  3. 3.

    Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy.

  4. 4.

    Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption.

  5. 5.

    Council Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste water treatment.

  6. 6.

    Different donor institutions have applied different thresholds for assessing affordability constraints of utility services, including electricity, heating, water, and wastewater. An excellent overview of these thresholds is provided in Fankhauser and Tepic (2005, 5). For water and wastewater, 3% to 5% of total income is the typically applied benchmark to assess an affordability constraint.

  7. 7.

    This role of regulatory bodies can be considered in the framework of strategic delegation, where politicians decide on certain “unpopular” tasks to be delegated to a bureaucrat (see Alesina and Tabellini 2008).

  8. 8.

    The International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities (IBNet) is an initiative to encourage water and sanitation utilities to compile and share a set of core cost and performance indicators and thus meet the needs of various stakeholders. It sets forth a common set of data definitions and a minimum set of core indicators and provides software to enable easy data collection and calculation of the indicators. It also provides resources to analyze data and present results.


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Correspondence to Maria Salvetti .

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Klien, M., Salvetti, M. (2019). CEE. In: Porcher, S., Saussier, S. (eds) Facing the Challenges of Water Governance. Palgrave Studies in Water Governance: Policy and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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