Cost recovery as a policy instrument to achieve sustainable and equitable water use in Europe and the Netherlands

P.E. Lindhout

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 2 (Research NOT UU / Graduation UU)


In this research the author reflected upon the economic environmental instrument of cost recovery for water services as provided for in the WFD. These reflections were made in order to address the question ‘What is the aim of the cost recovery provision in the WFD and what obscurities arise in its interpretation that may hinder its effectiveness to attainment of these aims?’

In order to address the main question an examination was made whether the current cost recovery provision in Article 9 WFD has been positioned (and interpreted) in a manner that allows its application to reach full effect. That means whether it is positioned in such manner to contribute to the (environmental) objectives of sustainable, balanced and equitable water use of the WFD.

In this respect a teleological approach in the examination was used in order to reflect upon the potential effectiveness of the cost recovery provision in relation to the normative goals to be reached. In this approach, first the normative context of the cost recovery provision was examined. This examination has been based on, firstly, a review of the position the cost recovery provision, as economic instrument, has been given in the WFD, related to the normative environmental goals. Secondly, the legislative history of the cost recovery provision was examined to determine what constitutes the cost recovery provision. In this respect also a legal theoretical approach has been used to determine what kind of character the cost recovery provision entails, the main character of a principle or rule. This approach was taken because the preliminary determination or assessment of a provision having the character of a principle or rule is frequently ignored, but in my view relevant, as the legal scope of provisions with the character of a principle or rule differ and will or should influence the performance of the provision within its normative context.
The examination of the most important elements of the cost recovery provision furthermore has shown that many obscurities exist and vague, not sufficiently defined terminology is used.

In this book arguments are provided to address cost recovery in a different manner than the European Court of Justice seems to have done. A manner that may enhance the effectiveness of the instrument of cost recovery to contribute to reaching sustainable and equitable water use. The findings in this book provide further insight on how to position cost recovery in European (and Dutch) legislation in order to enhance its potential effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • van Rijswick, Marleen, Primary supervisor
  • Nehmelman, Remco, Supervisor
Award date27 Mar 2015
Print ISBNs978-94-90393-46-5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2015


  • Cost recovery
  • WFD
  • water services
  • sustainability
  • equity
  • polluter-pays-principle


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