European Citizens’ Initiative: A game of much publicity and one big lie

European Parliament. Citizens first! Ideas for improving and extending the European Citizens Initiative. Greens / European Free Alliance, Gerald Hafner, (Greens/EFA, DE) in the chair. (EP Audiovisual, 27/06/2013).

European Parliament. Citizens first! Ideas for improving and extending the European Citizens Initiative. Greens / European Free Alliance, Gerald Hafner, (Greens/EFA, DE) in the chair. (EP Audiovisual Services, 27/06/2013).

On April Fools Day 2011, the Regulation (EU) No 211/2011, under the title of “European Citizens’ Initiative” (ECI), entered into force. According to it, one million EU citizens residing in at least one-quarter of the Member States can ‘invite’ the Commission to submit a proposal for a legal act which “they consider to be required in order to implement the EU Treaties”. The first such initiative has now matured and will be presented next Monday in the European Parliament by the organisers, after having collected two million verified signatures from supporters. It’s the ‘”Right2Water“. However, as it will be proved here below, once more the EU is to let its citizens down and will only try to use this ECI Regulation for positive publicity ahead of the European elections.

For one thing, the Regulation No 211/2011 doesn’t oblige the Commission to introduce draft legislation according to citizens’ will. One, two or more million people cannot overrun the requirement of conformity with the EU Treaties. It’s not like Switzerland where the citizens can decide practically whatever they want, through the procedure of referendums. In reality, the entire procedure of the European Citizens’ Initiative is a parody of democracy, letting the various Brussels dignitaries to boast about giving the citizens the right to introduce legislation, knowing that this is a lie and a comedy from the beginning to the end. Let’s test this little and bellicose theory to practice.

The “Right2Water” initiative has three demands, “guaranteed water and sanitation for all in the EU”, “global access to water and sanitation for all” and “no liberalisation of water services”. A Parliament Press release erroneously says that the “campaigners promote the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services”. It’s obvious that the campaigners don’t ‘promote’ anything. It’s the two million citizens who have undersigned the above three demands, and want water and sanitation to remain public services. Under the present circumstances, the most important of the three demands and the most difficult for the Brussels bureaucracy to accept is the last one, invoking “no liberalisation of water services”, clearly meaning no privatization of water supply in the European Union.

No privatization of water supply

Unfortunately for the Brussels autocracy, the facts are against them. They will not be able for long, to seriously go on pretending discussing the three demands. If there was the slightest possibility the Commission would accept what those two million citizens demand, its man in the Troika wouldn’t have asked the Greek government to privatise the two largest public water suppliers of the country, in the Athens basin and the Thessaloniki area. EYDAP and EYATH are two giant, well-organized and mildly profitable companies controlled by the state. They have already undergone a partial privatization, through their listing in the Athens Stock Exchange and the floating of a minority stake.

Currently both those full privatisations are progressing regularly and the Greek government talks with French and other private investors. The only hope for the sellouts to be blocked is the Greek Constitutional Court and not the Commission. Brussels would be on the other side of the fence. The Greek high court may find the complete privatizations of EYDAP and EYATH as unconstitutional on the grounds that water is a public good and the definition of a natural monopoly. Consequently, the entire society cannot become insubordinate to a private concern.

The Commission favors all privatisations

Brussels haven’t uttered the slightest objection to this privatization policy introduced by the Athens government. In reality, it has been imposed by the Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International monetary Fund. This tripartite ‘creature’ having no real legal entity, is running the country as it does in the case of Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus. If the Commission had in mind to honor its ethical obligation, towards the two million people who signed the “Rigth2Water” it would have intervened and stopped the Troika from selling the Greek liquid ‘crown jewels’.

It becomes clear that this widely advertised “European Citizens’ Initiative” Regulation doesn’t oblige the Commission to introduce draft legislation enforcing the people’s will. It’s just big words and the Brussels system presently promotes the first such mature initiative, in view of the European election of 22-25 May. After the election the Commission will surely decide that it’s impossible and against the EU Treaty, to ban the privatization of the water supply in the entire Union. Not to forget that the ECI Regulation clearly states the citizens’ demand has to comply and be “required in order to implement the EU Treaties”.

There is nowhere written in the EU Treaty that water supply and sanitation cannot be private. The opposite would have been a revelation. So, the Commission will surely deny introducing draft legislation to ban the privatization of water supply and sanitation. Now what if more ECIs mature in the future, asking for other things that one million citizens want? No problem, the Commission can always invoke its mandate as “guardian of the Treaties” and use its discretionary right to dismiss the demands. This is the one big truth behind this ECI Regulation. The lie is that the Brussels bureaucracy pretends that there is substance to it.

Grotesque theater

This will leave the “Right2Water” initiative with its other two demands: “guaranteed water and sanitation for all in the EU” and “global access to water and sanitation for all”. Again those are beautiful words and as such the Commission would have no objection at all to accept them. Then the Commission can argue that the EU budget for the period 2014-2020 is to spend tens of billions supporting water and sanitation projects all over the EU. Consequently the two demands are already served by the European Union and there is no need to enact special legislation.

What will be left after the lights go off and the TV cameras are away, will be the dirty game of playing the democrats who listen to the voice of the people. Unfortunately, the EU people who need water and sanitation are not the bankers who demanded and extracted €4.5 trillion in subsidies paid by the all those poor and thirsty taxpayers.

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