Europe encouraged by Irish Water referendum plan

WaterDay

The decision of a Joint Oireachtas Committee to recommend a constitutional referendum to underpin public ownership of Irish Water has encouraged campaigners across Europe, according to the leader of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU).

In a new IMPACT blog to mark World Water Day today, EPSU general secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan said it wasbig news for the European water movement” and “a huge encouragement for the many local and national groups fighting the privatisation of water services across the continent.”

The blog, authored with IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan, notes that many local authorities in European countries like France and Portugal have brought water services back into public ownership after costly experiments in privatisation. T

They say World Water Day is an occasion for us to celebrate the huge contribution that decent water services make to public health and quality of life, and to highlight the opposition to privatisation that’s growing throughout Europe.

It reports that the trade union-led campaign for a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on the right to water attracted nearly two million signatures from across the EU, placing the issue on the EU’s legislative agenda at the behest of its citizens. The European Parliament then fully supported the ECI demands.

“Despite the clear message delivered directly by citizens through the ECI, and by their elected representatives in the Parliament, the European Commission fails to listen. In the case of Greece, where people rejected water privatisation, the Eurogroup has been forcing the government to sell shares in the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies,” they say.

“The Irish people have made crystal clear their desire to see water and waste water services remain in public ownership. Their instinct is supported by the overwhelming results of research that shows privatisation is a bad choice. Ireland has the support of Europe’s trade unions and the broader water movement, which is connecting the resistance to privatisation across European borders,” they write.

Read the full blog HERE.