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While hundreds of thousands support citizens initiative for water as a Human Right and opposing liberalization, MEPs vote through concessions directive


04 Feb 2013


Social Europe & Jobs

The first up and running European Citizens Initiative (ECI) - Water is a Human Right – is more than 4/5ths of the way towards  the target of a million online signatures. And many workers and citizens are collecting paper signatures as well.  This ECI was the first to start the paper and on-line collection of signatures. It is the first initiative that has passed the ¾ threshold and likely to be the first to reach the 1 million mark.

Clearly many hundred thousands of citizens are concerned about water and sanitation. They regard these as public services. They do not want water services to be sold for profit. Many have signed the ECI following TV programmes and newspaper articles especially in Germany in which the Concessions Directive was discussed. The European Commission has proposed this directive to promote public private partnerships and competition. Many are concerned that municipalities that award the concession for water, but also other public services, to municipal companies will risk that these concessions have to be brought on to the market and will be forced  to be provided by private companies for profit.

A majority of the European Parliament’s Committee for the Internal Market (IMCO), dominated by conservatives, defeated proposals to reject the directive.  It also rejected proposals to have a broad exclusion for public services, and it rejected separate proposals to exclude water services.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, vice President of the Citizen Committee states “While hundreds of thousands are signing the Initiative and make clear they do not want water services to be subject to internal market rules,  MEPs prepare privatisation of public services such as water and sanitation through the backdoor. The ECI has over  800.000 people supporting it, they  need to be heard.” 

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) one of the most active supporters of the European Citizens Initiative regrets the vote of IMCO. We will bring the concerns of many supporters of the ECI to the attention of the MEPs. MEPs should  change their views when voting in their plenary meeting in  March. We do not want steps being taken now that will frustrate the wishes of citizens.

On the European Citizens Initiative Water and Sanitation a Human Right

For more info Pablo Sanchez, , 00 32 474 62 66 33

The text of the European Citizens Initiative:

Water is a public good, not a commodity. We invite the European Commission to propose legislation implementing the human right to water and sanitation as recognised by the United Nations, and promoting the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all. The EU legislation should require governments to ensure and to provide all citizens with sufficient and clean drinking water and sanitation. We urge that:

1.    The EU institutions and Member States be obliged to ensure that all inhabitants enjoy the right to water and sanitation.

2.    Water supply and management of water resources not be subject to ‘internal market rules’ and that water services are excluded from liberalisation.  

3.    The EU increases its efforts to achieve universal access to water and sanitation.


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