L’accès gratuit à l’eau potable bénéficie-t-il nécessairement au plus défavorisé ? Une discussion critique à l’aune du cas de la Flandre
Series/Report no.Revue Éthique et Économique / Ethics and Economics;Volume 2, Numéro 1
This article discusses the 1997 Flemish reform in the domestic water sector (Belgium). It abolished a previously existing social correction of the wastewater charge. Instead, a tax exemption for some disadvantaged categories was introduced. Moreover, water consumers receive 15 m3 of drinking-water per person per year for free. This policy change was assumed to contribute better to social equity. However, the reform led to changes in the drinking water tariffs by the water companies. Furthermore, a study conducted by Van Humbeeck (1998) shows that the distributive impact of the new water regulation is negative. As a matter of fact, the water reform increased the regressivity of the total wastewater and drinking water expenses. The Flemish example shows that ex ante evaluation of any reform of public services is a prerequisite for more social justice in the provision of basic goods to underprivileged citizens.