“The first successful paneuropean citizens’ initiative” was handed in to officials in Brussels, who said they were overjoyed to be meeting with privatization opponents to mark such a happy milestone for grass roots democracy in Europe. They were serious.
The group Right2Water collected 1.6 million signatures protesting new rules that would have made it easier to privatize European water utilities, and in ways large companies would have dominated. Not only was theirs the first initiative to meet the Lisbon agreement’s requirements but “who knows what would have happened” without the discussion Right2Water created, said Süddeutsche.de. In response to the signatures campaign, the commission officials under Michel Barnier canceled plans to enable privatization of municipal water utilities with bidding open to companies from all of Europe. They announced public water utilities would not be subject to the internal market’s liberalization rules.
Currently, a citizens’ initiative that fulfills the Lisbon agreement’s criteria of collecting >1 million signatures from at least seven Member States will get a hearing from the European Parliament and from the European Commission. The European Commission is obligated to issue a statement in response within three months, so in this case by 19 Mar 2014.
Right2Water organizers made three demands: that all Europeans have a right to water and basic sanitation, that the E.U. push internationally for universal access to water, and that the potable water supply not be subjected to the interior market’s rules.
The group clearly achieved some progress on the third demand, preventing the worst from happening for the time being. Regarding the second demand, European parliament president Martin Schulz (S.P.D., Germany) recently caused a scandal in the Israeli Knesset by asking why the discrepancy between the per capita water volumina available to Palestinians and to Israelis.
(Eh ah stah eh ah FOAL gry chh ah ponn oy roe PEI ish ah BIR gah ee nee tsee ah TEE vah.)