IMPACT urges Irish MEPs to support EU citizens’ initiative on water

Peter Nolan, National Secretary, IMPACT
Peter Nolan, National Secretary, IMPACT

IMPACT has contacted Irish MEPs urging their support for the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) on recognising water as a human right. The European Parliament is due to vote on its report on the ECI on Tuesday 8th September in Strasbourg. IMPACT is also urging the MEPs to oppose two controversial amendments which have been added to the report.

In a letter to all Irish MEPs, IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan urged them to oppose two amendments to the report because they don’t respect the demands of the two million EU citizens that supported the ECI.

Peter explained, “One of the amendments deletes the demand that the European Commission comes forward with a legislative proposal to recognise the human right to water and sanitation based on the UN resolution of 2010 in the European Union, while another seeks to remove provisions that would ensure that water and sanitation services are not part of the scope of trade agreements such as TTIP.”

ECIs were introduced as a legal tool, as part of the Nice Treaty, which forces European institutions to consider issues that win the necessary public support. The Right to Water ECI was launched in 2012 by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and supported by IMPACT, successfully collecting almost two million signatures across Europe. It aims to exclude water and sanitation services from EU internal market rules, and legislate to ensure water and sanitation assets remain in public control.

Peter added that the ECI enjoyed very broad support across the EU and that to reject the demand for concrete legislative steps to protect water services would be considered by many citizens as proof that their voice does not count. “It will signal that the instrument of the ECI to improve participation of citizens in EU decision-making is not serious. We must also ensure that water and sanitation services are excluded from the scope of trade agreements. We are counting on your support to oppose these amendments” he said.

Peter added that most of the other amendments in the report relate to the question of public versus private ownership. He added that the supporters of the ECI favour public control, operation and ownership of the all water services.

UPDATE Wednesday 9th September:

Following the vote in Strasbourg, the EPSU issued the following statement, confirming that IMPACT’s lobbying efforts were successful:

“Another milestone for the Human Right to Water.

With today’s vote the EP demands that the EC make concrete legislative proposals to recognize the human right to water and sanitation as defined by the UN.

This victory is for the supporters of the Right to Water and also for democracy in the European Union. This vote adds support to the 1.9 million signature collected, backs up what the candidates to the Presidency of the European Commission previously agreed, and the report of the Economic and Social Committee as they all call on the Commission to act. The European Commission can’t ignore the demand for concrete legislation.

The European Parliament rejected all the amendments that were watering down the spirit of the demands of the ECI.

Jan Willem Goudriaan, ECI vice president, comments “The explicit exclusion of water services from concessions Directive and from Trade negotiations is a long standing demand that the EP has supported”. He adds “It is very important that the members of the EU Parliament have taken the citizens demand into account. Water matters to them.

The ECI right2water will continue to work until the European Union recognizes water and sanitation as a human right. Today is a day of joy.”