The issue of privatisation of water utilities, primarily in countries under the European Financial Support Mechanism (EFSM), and the role of the EU in pushing for the sale of public water utilities raises considerable unrest.
Following on from the May 15th “Open letter to EU Commission on water privatisation”, signed by 21 NGOs, a written question on “Privatization of water by the Troika” was addressed to the EC by MEPs of the Greens/EFA.
According to the NGO open letter,
“In a context where harsh austerity measures have led to income loss, job losses and widespread poverty, privatisation (typically leading to higher prices and undermining access to services) directly threatens the right to water. The report also demonstrates that these privatisation measures have been imposed from above despite widespread public opposition, in violation of the right to public participation in decision-making
about water and sanitation services.
The privatisation programmes are being imposed at a time when the appetite for water privatisation among municipalities is at a long-time low because of the disappointing experiences throughout Europe and around the world. An increasing number of cities are choosing remunicipalisation, having tried privatisation, including Paris, which has experienced lower prices and improved services as a result”
The October 2nd written question of the four Green MEPs states that:
“In accordance with the resolutions of the European Parliament of 14.01.2004, 10.03.2004 and of 31.05.2006, the water sector should not be liberalised but modernised. The water sector should therefore not fall under the scope of the directive on service concessions.”
Sources: NGO letter to Commissioner Rehn.