Right2Water initiative: Is the Commission ready to listen to citizens?

European Parliament. Public Hearing on the European Citizens' Initiative 'Right2Water'. (EP Audiovisual Services, 17/2/2014).

European Parliament. Public Hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water’. (EP Audiovisual Services, 17/2/2014).

Predictably, the Right2Water campaigners while presenting yesterday in the European Parliament their ‘citizens’ initiative’, met opposition from some MEPs only when they crossed the line of the usual pompous but vacuous words about ‘universal rights’ and laid down their meaningful demand to ban privatization of water supply. It turned out that the organisers of the “Right2Water” campaign, speaking at the legislative, asked the Commission and the Parliament as they have the right, to “guarantee access to water and sanitation as a human right, and give a legal undertaking that water services will not be liberalised in the EU”.

This was the first European Parliament debate on a European Citizens’ Initiative. According to a Press release issued by the Parliament, the legislators shared the view that access to water is a basic human right, “but some pointed out that rules on providing drinkable water remain the remit of EU member states”. The Parliamentary hearing involved the committees of Environment, Development, Internal Market and Petitions.

A mature initiative

The European Commissioner and Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič responsible for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration was present. The Parliament and the Commission are expected to draft a response to the initiative by 20 of March. The ‘right2Water’ citizens’ initiative is the first such action to have completed the authentication and formal requirements course as provided by Regulation (EU) No 211/2011. This Regulation has introduced the “European Citizens’ Initiative” (ECI) as from 1 April 2011.

A citizens’ initiative is an invitation for the EU to legislate in areas within its mandate. It has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens from at least seven of the 28 Member States. The initiative on water and sanitation was organised by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), achieving a resounding success with more than 1.9 million signatures collected before voting closed on 10 September 2013. The threshold was exceeded in 13 Member States.

As expected, the organisers of the Right2Water campaign are focusing their action on the request to ban water supply privatization all over the EU. Of course, they share the UN principles calling for the access to water and sanitation to be treated as a basic human right. However, in the EU, during the last decade the burning topic in this activity remains the attempt to pass it from the public responsibility with its historic investments, to the private sector. The usual result is that the privates completely neglect the maintenance of the infrastructure and the networks, and plan to extract the highest possible profit during the time of their contract.

The private operator by definition doesn’t have the slightest motive to spend money on maintenance and development works the life of which will exceed the time horizon of the contract. The fact that water supply is the ‘definition’ of physical monopoly tempts the private contractors to use the water supply also in other peculiar ways. For example, what if they the private company which operates the water supply system in a large city, has or acquires a stake in a water bottling and distribution company?

How democratic is the Commission?

The obvious contradiction between the private interest in general and the absolute monopoly of the water supply and the historic investments realized through time to secure it, have led the Right2Water initiative to focus on the need to ban the privatization of this sector. “We launched this initiative to get it on to the European Commission’s agenda. We wish to reiterate here that water provision and sanitation are essential public services for all”, said Right2Water Citizens’ Committee chair Anne-Marie Perret. “It is important that citizens should be able to pay reasonable rates reflecting their needs, not those of distribution company shareholders. Today, they no longer hesitate to cut off the water of families in difficulty”, she added while presenting the initiative to the Parliament.

However, the competent European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič who was present in the hearing tried to use the whole affair as a public relations occasion. He said that “that this instrument of participatory democracy works”. Unfortunately, this instrument has so far demanded the commitment and the hard word of its organisers, without any indication that their difficult and demanding labour will pay dividends, and Šefčovič knows very well that there is nothing democratic about it.

There is not even the slightest reassurance that the main target of the initiative will be attained. It’s only him who can make it happen and prove that democracy works in the Union, by introducing a draft Regulation with only one article: banning the privatization of the water supply all over the EU. But he won’t do it, not in the last ten months of his term as a Commissioner.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

Have Europe’s Ukrainian wounds begun to heal?

European Youth Forum welcomes the European Commission’s proposed revision of the Union Code on Visas, however it does not go far enough

Four ways innovation can help to beat heart disease

FEATURE: Niger’s girls find sanctuary in fistula treatment centres

G20 told crucial COP24 climate change conference ‘must succeed’: Guterres

‘Virtual Biopsy’ device detects skin tumours in 15 minutes

UN chief welcomes ‘first concrete step’ in normalizing Eritrea-Ethiopia relationship

Australian solar could power Singapore within a decade

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

Antitrust: Commission imposes interim measures on Broadcom in TV and modem chipset markets

Cyprus: Joint Statement by the High Representative Borrell and Commissioner Ferreira on the electoral process in the Turkish Cypriot community

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

Fair Taxation: New EU-wide system to resolve tax disputes between Member States applies from today

Security Council calls for dialogue in Haiti

6 charts that show how Japan’s economy stacks up as it enters a new era

EU prepares for the worst case scenario as Turkey seems to be withdrawing from the migration deal

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

The EU and North Korea: A Story of Underestimation

These charts show where the world’s refugees came from in 2017 – and where they’re heading

AI can be a game-changer for the world’s forests. Here’s how

UN member states express their will to tackle global migration but specific actions are still missing

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

Vote at 16 in Malta: next stop Europe

Italy’s Letta: A European Banking Union soon or Eurozone collapses

‘Being open about my mental health created a better work culture’

It’s down to cities to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

State aid: Commission approves €790 million Croatian guarantee scheme for companies with export activities affected by coronavirus outbreak

What Mary Poppins teaches us about behavioural economics

How China’s sponge cities are preparing for sea-level rise

These 5 countries are home to more than half the world’s forests

How fixing broken food systems can help us meet all the SDGs

What’s needed to protect food security in Africa during COVID-19

Why European manufacturing SMEs in the South face fatal dangers

The EU might as well go down the drain if foreign meddling corrupts May’s elections

These clothes were designed by artificial intelligence

Tax crimes: special committee calls for a European financial police force

Sub10 Systems @ MWC14: Bridging the Ethernet of the Future

The Shifting Rhythms of Harmonious China: Ancient, Modern & Eternal

Online radio and news broadcasts: Parliament and Council reach deal

European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

Can Greece’s democratic institutions keep it in Eurozone?

3 ways to keep ourselves cool more sustainably

How the North Korea-U.S. detente is a leveling of the playing field

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

Restoring prospect of peace in Middle East is ‘our shared responsibility’ UN envoy tells Security Council

Internet of Things: a Force for Good or Evil?

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

How to unleash the enormous power of global healthcare data

‘All efforts must be made’ to ensure peaceful elections for Guinea-Bissau, Security Council hears

EU Ombudsman must continue push for more transparency in Council and Commission

Don’t underestimate the power of the fintech revolution

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

CHINA UNLIMITED. PEOPLE UNLIMITED. RESTRICTIONS LIMITED

It’s time to fulfil the promises made to women 25 years ago

EU plans pan-European network of cybersecurity services

International Day of the Midwife: 5 things you should know

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. A group of thugs petitioning a group of criminals, and meanwhile the producers in our civilization are the victims. What a sick world.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s