Water sector regulation in Europe encompasses a range of institutional frameworks and market conditions that differ from country to country. In the European Union (EU), there has been a significant evolution towards the rationalisation of the sector and the harmonisation of practices and principles. This has developed through the establishment of a general framework for community action in the field of water policy and by addressing the sustainability of water services and the principle of cost recovery of its provision. This framework is based mainly on the establishment of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) which sets the necessary standards to protect water resources and to promote their efficient employment. Despite this trend for harmonisation, there is still substantial diversity in national frameworks, and national water sector regulators have identified the need for a joint effort to address common challenges for the sustainability of these services in Europe.
WAREG (European Water Regulators) was created in April 2014 by an initial group of 12 regulators of water supply and sewerage services in Europe. Following a first meeting in Milan, hosted by the Italian Regulatory Authority for electricity gas and water (Aeegsi), and many subsequent meetings hosted by WAREG Members, some common objectives have been identified, including:
At present, WAREG is made up by 24 regulatory authorities with Member status and 3 regulatory authorities with Observer status. Any entity or legal body which is responsible for the regulation of water and/or wastewater services within a country in Europe may apply for membership or for observer status within WAREG.