The purpose of this article is to identify possible scenarios for the evolution of the European water supply and sanitation sectors (WSS) in the next 15 years, on the basis of empirical knowledge of its dynamics. These are: tendered market, tendered market with strong regulation, administrative regulation, outsourcing, direct public management and community management. In order to do this, the authors examined the main characteristics of the sector that influence the way the sector is likely to evolve, the nature and scope of the WSS markets in Europe, as well as the role of the main actors involved in this sector (whether the European Union's institutions, public and private operators, or national regulators). This detailed analysis resulted in the framing of the main drivers of change affecting the whole sector in Europe, as well as three macro-storylines along two paradigms, a liberalized and a non-liberalized environment, that were at the basis of the identification of the water “scenarios”. The authors have finally tested the plausibility of the scenarios in selected European countries.

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