Water is a public good

Thursday, 27 june

original version

english version


Recent developments have confirmed that threat of privatisation of the water sector is still very real.

The "Troïka" (International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank) has been attaching privatisation of public services, including water utilities, as a condition for Member States such as Greece and Portugal receiving rescue loans. The Troïka claims that privatisation will contribute to repayment of government debt.

In addition, there are concerns of back-door privatisation of the water sector in the on-going negotiations relating to the adoption of a European Directive on Concessions (i.e. specific type of contracts between a public authority and an economic operator, in which the latter executes works or performs services while bearing the economic risk linked to this activity). Although the directive proposal itself does not require the privatisation of water nor of any public utilities, it contains in its current wording , provisions, especially on "public-public cooperation" (i.e. cooperation between public authorities in the provision of public utilities) and on "affiliated undertakings" (i.e. the rules for an entity to be considered as controlled by a public authority), which would jeopardise the necessary room for manoeuvre and legal certainty regarding the provision of water services by public actors.

The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament are completely opposed to these developments. We have openly questioned the Commission's intentions several times on this matter and we have tabled amendments in the European Parliament to reject the Concessions Directive, or at least to exclude the water sector from its scope. Unfortunately, thus far, there has been a majority in the Parliament to adopt the Commission's proposals.

Against this back drop, the European Citizens' Initiative "Water is a public good", calling for strong measures to protect and promote universal water delivery as an essential public service, has galvanised attention across Europe and is scheduled to be the first Citizens' Initiative to be adopted.

This conference aims at discussing these issues and at contributing to the mobilisation against these threats in the water sector.


Opening and introduction

by Heide Rühle, MEP and Nikos Chrysogelos, MEP

Film presentation 'Water makes money'

by the author of the film Leslie Franke & Herdolor Lorenz

The Citizens' initiative right2water
presentation by the campaign responsible / EPSU representative 
Jan Willem Goudriaan, vice-President of the citizens committee of the ECI and EPSU

Presentation of local/regional case examples:
- Dr. Kostas Nikolaou, Kinisi 136 (Greece)
- Luís Babiano, Director General, Asociación Española de Operadores Públicos de Agua, Saniamiento y Distribución (Spanish Association of Public Services of Water)

Discussion with the public


by Raül Romeva, MEP

embed player: click here

mp4 - original - [574 MB]
mp4 - english - [686 MB]