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Innovations for the Water Service in England and Wales after the Reform of 2014 and Profiles of Comparison with Other European Systems

Sandra Antoniazzi

The privatisation of water services goes back to the Thatcher Government and the first legal reference was the Water Act 1989, replaced by the Water Industry Act 1991 amended several times until the Water Act 2014 was introduced, after a heated debate between the regulator Ofwat and the companies involved. The current system is based on entrusted service by licensing to private companies extractors for large retailers and smaller companies that supply water to the retail users; there are innovations as concerns competitive market, the control of Ofwat on licensing through new administrative procedures and on the quality of services and consumer protection (of large amounts of water, but not so for modest domestic consumers). This legal framework is compared with the experiences of other European countries that had privatised the management. In recent years, particularly in Germany and France, a new trend emerges: the return to public management by local authorities. In Spain and Italy, the mixed companies PPP including local authorities are still very diffused, while there are some private companies and public companies of local authorities.
Keywords: Privatisation; Water Service in England and Wales; Water Act 2014; Mixed Companies PPP.

Sandra Antoniazzi, Assistant Professor of Administrative Law, Department of Public Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata. I am very grateful to Prof Jeffrey Jowell (Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law; BIICL) for his very helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.


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