EU commission blasted over weak response to Right2Water initiative

The commission's failure to address the concerns raised in the EU citizens' initiative (ECI) petition on access to water and sanitation risks undermining the entire process, warn MEPs.

By Desmond Hinton-Beales

26 Jun 2015

Members of parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee passed a resolution on Wednesday calling for access to water and sanitation to be recognised as a human right, as well as ensuring that water services across the EU will not be subject to liberalisation.

The ECI process was introduced in April 2012 and allows one million citizens from at least one quarter of EU member states to invite the commission to take action in areas where it has the power to do so.

Right2Water, which is the first successful ECI, exceeded the required number, garnering 1.68 million signatures in 13 member states. However, MEPs have accused the commission's response of lacking "any real ambition and [failing] to meet the demands of the organisers".


Rapporteur on the initiative Lynne Boylan said, “I am absolutely delighted that the committee has adopted my recommendations on the European citizen's initiative on the Right2Water.

“Almost two million citizens signed this ECI and the commission's response was simply not good enough. Citizens have serious and legitimate concerns regarding the privatisation of water services which I have highlighted in my report. Water is a human right, not a commodity and should not be treated as such”, she added.

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group spokesperson on health and environment Matthias Groote added his voice to Boylan's, saying, “We want the exclusion of water and sanitation from market rules (against EPP and ECR); against any privatisation of these public services, and also the exclusion of these services from any international trade deal now and in the future. We also want special measures for people with difficulties to access water - either because they live in remote areas or because they cannot afford to pay for it.”

The S&D group shadow rapporteur for the right to water Iratxe García Pérez stressed that, "The framework directive for water is the right legal tool to ensure that water and sanitation are included in the EU legislation and in the charter of fundamental rights.

"We hope that the commission understands our strong demand to consider water and sanitation a public good that cannot be used for profit. This is why we also say that there should be no cuts in water supply for families going through hardship, because water management should not follow the logics of profit."

The report, which was approved in committee by 38 votes to 22, with six abstentions, will go before parliament's Strasbourg plenary session in September.

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