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Commission Lacks Ambition in Replying to First European Citizens' Initiative
BRUSSELS, March 20, 2014
European Commission (EC) published a Communication today to give its
response to the first successful European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)
which called on the EC "to implement the human right to water and
sanitation in European law." In the Communication, the EC recalls the
importance of the human right to water and sanitation and states the
importance of water as a public good and fundamental value and that
"water is not a commercial product." However, that's as far as it goes.
reaction of the European Commission lacks any real ambition to respond
appropriately to the expectations of 1.9 million people," says Jan Willem Goudriaan, vice-president of http://www.right2water.eu. "I regret that there is no proposal for legislation recognising the human right to water."
ECI also asked for a legal commitment that there would be no EU
initiatives to liberalise water and sanitation services. But there is
nothing in the Communication on this. We welcome the fact that the
support of people for our ECI led to the exclusion of water and
sanitation services from the concessions directive. However, the
Communication makes no commitment to explicitly exclude these services
from trade negotiations such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
there are aspects of the European Commission response that we consider
positive. For example, the recognition that the provision of water
services is the responsibility of local authorities which are closest to
citizens. This confirms the trend towards remunicipalisation across Europe
which, according to the Communication, is the safest way for water to
be kept out of internal market rules, one of the ECI's main demands.
also welcome the Commission's commitment to promote universal access to
water and sanitation in its development policies and to promote
expect that the review of the Water Framework Directive and the
Drinking Water Directive will be an opportunity to realise the human
right to water and sanitation in the EU. The Citizens' Committee expects
to be considered as a major stakeholder.
will be asking the political parties and their candidates for President
of the EC to commit to proposing legislation to implement the human
right to water and sanitation and not to liberalise water and sanitation
services in the EU and beyond. This will be important for the European
elections in May 2014.