During today’s European Parliament public hearing on the universal right to clean water, GUE/NGL MEPs called for universal access to water and sanitation, and hit out against the forced privatisation of such services in countries under Troika programmes.
“Water is not a commodity, full stop! Following fierce austerity measures in countries such as Portugal and Greece, people have had their water supply cut off because they couldn’t afford to pay the bills. We shouldn’t come here today just to celebrate the right to water, we have to acknowledge that austerity policies are removing the right to water now within Europe,” said Portuguese MEP Alda Sousa.
The Right2Water campaign is the first successful European Citizen’s Initiative (where citizens can petition for a topic to be put on the EU agenda). It was backed by almost two million people across several member states.
Dutch MEP Dennis De Jong thanked and congratulated the organisers and said “access to water is a basic human right”.
“Although the plans for Europe-wide privatisation have been shelved, the EU still forces countries under Troika supervision to privatise water services. That should stop immediately,” he said.
The Right2Water initiative wants EU institutions and Member States to be obliged to ensure that all inhabitants enjoy the right to water and sanitation; and for water supply and management of resources not be subject to internal market rules.
Greek MEP Nikos Chountis said “the liberalisation of water supplies allows private monopolies to dominate the sector and turns water into a marketable product, resulting in reduced access for the majority of citizens.”
“It is vital for citizens to make their own decisions about the future of water and sanitation services. One solution could be to push for local referendums in cities where these services are about to be privatised,” he said, adding that the prevention of water privatisation will come only through the creation and growth of massive citizens’ initiatives.