The development of the water reuse sector within the European Union (EU) varies considerably. In 2020, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Cyprus had the most comprehensive regulations for the reuse of reclaimed water for agriculture. The approval of a common regulation by the EU Parliament and the Council in May 2020 (which came into effect in June 2023) elicits the question of how each country will comply with it. This review compares (i) national regulations to the 2020 European Regulation, (ii) existing projects with respect to their performance in terms of water quality and (iii) raises a debate about the role of the EU Regulation in fostering water reuse at the EU level. The European Regulation will probably strengthen consumer confidence as common minimum requirements are now required. However, the issues related to micropollutants, disinfection by-products or possible changes in the water quality downstream of the compliance point are not fully considered by the EU Regulation. Moreover, other techno-economic obstacles to be overcome include the distance between the production of treated water and agricultural needs, the low economic competitiveness of reclaimed water and the implementation of the multi-barrier approach.

  • The EU Regulation harmonises standards and procedures for water reuse: some countries need to adapt their regulations and current projects.

  • It does not necessarily represent a driver for the development of this practice.

  • The main challenges are associated with the economic competitiveness of reclaimed wastewater, risk management planning, the sharing of responsibilities and the implementation of the multi-barrier approach.

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