Meanwhile, In Brussels



RTÉ reports:

The European Commission has declared that Ireland does not enjoy an exemption from the obligation under EU law for a system of water charges.

The confirmation is highly likely to severely limit the new minority Government’s discretion to scrap water charges.

Furthermore, according to informed sources, Ireland could face a procedure in the coming months that could lead to daily fines due to the Government’s breach of EU law.

The European Commission has said that the earlier “flexibility” on water charges afforded to Ireland no longer applies.

The confirmation comes in the form of a written response to Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan following a parliamentary question.


More as we get it.

Ireland not exempt from water charges – European Commission (RTE)

Related: Irish Water ‘plucked €100m abolition figure from the air’ (Irish Times)

Earlier: A Beaten Docket

29 thoughts on “Meanwhile, In Brussels

  1. b

    So, if the EC answer to her question is not that we can’t abolish water charges, why isn’t Lynn Boylan tweeting the information to her followers?

    seems like something she should be providing info on, no?

  2. Stephen Fagan

    Even if it was the case. All FG and FF have to do to quell a LOT of public opposition would be to enshrine public ownership through a referendum.

    1. TheDude

      +H2O. But we know that would defeat the real purpose of setting up IW in the first place

    1. ahjayzis

      Actually, you’d want to treble that water bill if you’re looking for cost recovery. All the charges do now is (nearly) pay for the cost of collection.

      “Polluter pays”, “Cost Recovery” – it’s a municipal water system FFS, the ‘polluter’ is the owner, the costs are already recovered from the owner – the taxpaying citizens.

      1. Steve


        ECJ case law has established that it is the individual / company / legal entity that is liable under polluter pays principle. Not the member state. Hence why the plastic bag levy is not recovered under general taxation but through single tax.

        ECJ case law has also established that individuals who do not pollute or have not contributed to that pollution shouldn’t have to pay for its treatment. So you could interpret that as charging those NOT on the public water or wastewater system for services thorough general taxation is illegal.

        1. ahjayzis

          Oh I know they’ve dotted their i’s, I just object to the contempt it shows for the concept of public service provision, the marketization of it, and undermining of the principle of paying for things in the public good by society through progressive means.

          “Full cost recovery” – try using that argument on people in hospital or kids being educated.

          It’s all of a part of the move away from citizenship in a society into being customers and clients in an economy.

          1. Steve

            I get your argument and for the most part i think it’s a fair one. Public services should be paid through progressive taxation. Completely agree.

            The one thing I will say about water/wastewater and how it’s different to other public services like health , education etc. is that the service provision of water / wastewater is largely a function of location.

            I know that my kids can attend the local primary school but if my wife gets a job in Galway I know that I can move my kids to a new primary school in galway.

            Similarly I give myself sunstroke in this lovely weather I can walk into the mater (and wait 14 hours …etc) and I will be eventually seen to. If I’m cycling down in cork this weekend and I break my leg I can get to CUH and be seen to.

            Location is largely irrelevant to Provision of service.

            Water / wastewater, like the supply of gas, is different IMO. My house is connected to the public mains. I can’t transfer my house to an area that needs a well of its own septic tank. It’s location determines the effect it has on the service.

            That argument falls down slightly in the case where people with their own wells and septic tanks go on holidays in Ireland to an area provided by the public supply…but the proportion of that time compared to time that family spends in their home weakens that…..but…this stuff , just isn’t black and white.

            What’s definite , let’s run a referendum on public ownership the same day as ridding the 8th. That will get turnout :)

  3. Vote Rep #1

    If it doesn’t say that we are not except, could Lynn Boylan please explain what the answer says?

  4. Vote Rep #1

    This, btw, sounds like an utter clusterfup. Not only does the charges only cover collection when people are actually playing, it covers nothing now that peoples aren’t and the state could end up getting fined as well for not have proper charges. Amazing scenes.

  5. ahjayzis

    So Phil Hogan’s new job will be taking Phil Hogan’s old job to the ECJ on account of Phil Hogan’s catastrophic water fupp-up – the one he got a promotion for.

    Worth every penny of the MILLIONS we’ll be paying the corpulent mess til the day the gout finishes him off.

  6. Yellow Cheese Dog

    The IW Propaganda gets more and more desperate.

    We already pay. Not paying again.

  7. kiora

    As soon as Irish Water pay me back for the water they’ve been siphoning from our reserve, I’ll pay them for the delivery.

  8. 15 cents

    and people wonder why the brits wanna leave the EU. theyre unreal, they just wanna scalp us for everything. theyve already saddled us with the majority of the continents debt, and now theyre breaking constitution to force us into coughin up even more. we dont fuppin have it! fupp off and let us try make some kind of lives for ourselves, instead of being a cash cow for europe.

  9. Charley

    Polluter pays would suggest that the bills would only apply to wastewater so this would be an urban tax. The other issue would be that the diversion of motor tax to currently keep IW afloat would definitely be misappropriation of funds and should be taken back and invested in the roads . Any politicians involved in the misappropriation of these funds should charged and jailed.

  10. Walter-Ego

    Lynn Boylan gave a good account of why we should ignore the European Commission vague reply on Drivetime on RTE Radio this evening. Despite Mary Wilsons bizarre interview style.

    1. Kieran NYC

      Ha Wilson really sucks alright.

      She always sounds like she was just dumped into a radio studio for the first time, given a 20 second explanation of what radio was and then told to cover for someone.

      1. Steve

        Boylan saying Established practice = paying for water through general taxation.

        Commission saying established practice has since been updated by Ireland in 2014 through the introduction of domestic water charges.

        One for the wigs methinks in Luxembourg

        1. some old queen

          @ Steve.

          Do you agree that the only way this water issue can be taken out of the political domain is to have a referendum?

          1. Steve

            Provided response to your previous post and in my comment above.

            Yes. Sure heck why not throw the electricity and gas networks in there as well.

        2. Andy

          Nothing better than a big European court case.
          Think of the copy and air time our elected betters would get out of it.
          Non-stop wall to wall waffle.

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