Update info sheet on Italy by the Italian Water Forum

Italian Water Forum (Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua) denounces that, at the eve of general elections, Italian Draghi Cabinet changed unilaterally, in favour of privatization of public services, the Competition Bill agreed with the Parliament.

Italian Water Forum learned from the press that last September 16, one week before general elections, Italian Draghi Cabinet approved a decree that, without any previous confrontation, modifies unilaterally in favour of privatization of public services the Competition Bill previously agreed with the Parliament. It must be pointed out that, at the eve of the elections, current Parliament has no time to discuss and vote this decree and in the meantime the Government is under ordinary administration, so it cannot legislate by changing legislative provisions already agreed with the same Parliament.

Contents of the decree as reported by the press are even more serious. If confirmed, they violate what previously agreed and precisely: it is reintroduced the obligation for an operator of network services, whose government is public, to justify its failure to open to the private market; public operators under public law, i.e. ABC of Naples, are excluded from the management of network services. Possible illegal nature of such provisions are in course of evaluation.

It will be responsibility of the future Government and Parliament to reject this decree that overturns the parliamentary mandate and aims to submit public services to the governance of the big private subjects. As Italian Water Forum we will continue our struggles and initiatives against privatization of local public services and for the respect of the vote expressed in the referendum of 2011.

Rome, 23 September 2022

Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua

Appeal to the court by the Comitato Umbro Acqua Pubblica against Umbra Acque spa

25 June 2022

Popular action at the court of Perugia by the Comitato Umbro Acqua Pubblica
With private management, the accounts are not balanced for the citizen.

It has been proven for a long time that profits and public services are incompatible and that private management maximises profits and leaves the debts and dysfunctions to the public.

This is the case of the water service which, after almost 20 years of private management, has generated profits and consolidated the manager's assets thanks to public funding and the application of very high tariffs.

While citizens save on water consumption because they are sensitive to the preservation of the resource, as well as to the bill, politicians, on the one hand, are alarmed by the water crisis (drought and water rationing) and, on the other hand, endorse waste and over-consumption, as for example, the loss of 50% of the water introduced in the distribution network. This high rate of loss is caused by the failure of operators to make the planned investments to renew the network and repair leaks.

The core of the problem is that the private management of essential public services (health, transport, schools, etc.), in our case the water service, can only lead to high management costs, waste of resources, degradation of infrastructure, job insecurity and loss of professional skills.

All this was highlighted by the Comitato Umbro Acqua Pubblica, which sued Umbra Acque spa, the water service manager of 38 Umbrian municipalities, in the court of Perugia, with a popular action, due to the inertia of the assembly of municipalities that was supposed to control the activity of the manager. Instead of demanding that Umbra Acque spa respect the management contract, applying the penalties provided for if necessary, the assembly of municipalities continued for all these years to subscribe to everything that came from the manager without carrying out any control.


From Naples a clear message: Stop privatizations, public water “without any ifs or Ltds”

The Assembly of the Water Movements, met in Naples on 20th November 2021 following the national demonstration held in the morning, feels committed to oppose privatization processes of the integrated water service launched in the present phase, to affirm water as common good and to re-publicize water services.

To this purpose the Assembly deems necessary:

  • To reaffirm the great value of the experience carried out by Azienda Speciale ABC Napoli (ABC Naples Special Company), bulwark of democracy and of implementation of the will expressed in the referendum. To that effect, the Assembly requests mayor of Naples to make a clear terse statement in defence of and in securing ABC Naples Special Company as a public law body, by preventing in the meantime any attempt to change its juridical nature and to consequently privatize it.
  • To prevent PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) from constituting a further factor of penalization the South of Italy and an attempt to make it land of conquest for the Multi-services companies in the management of water services and local public services. To that effect, the Assembly asks Minister of the Ecological Transition to withdraw the circulaire of 12th May 2021 that prevents a plurality of operators of water services from having access to the PNRR funds. This disposition, having, by its very nature, only effects inside the Ministry, is illegitimate, without legal basis and in contrast with European principles whose scope is the elimination of social and territorial inequalities.
  • To counter the plan of privatization of the integrated water service and of local public services delineated in the DDL concorrenza (Competition Bill). And even more, we deem necessary to remove Art. 6 from the above mentioned bill, because this article is not conforming to the referendum obligation, as it excludes public governance and favours de facto private monopolists.


STAL welcomes Setúbal municipality decision to recover water and sanitation management

STAL warmly welcomes the approval by the Municipality of Setúbal, on the 24th of November, of recovering the municipal public management of water and sanitation, thus putting an end to the concession to private companies approved in 1997 by the socialist party, a decision marked by several suspicions, in which EPAL – the major water public company was even prohibited to compete by the then Minister of Environment Elisa Ferreira, in a clear favoring of private interests.

The decision now proposed by the communist party and the greens coalition - CDU, corresponding to an electoral commitment made in the last local elections by this political force, was approved with the votes in favor of the socialists, with the abstention of the social-democrats, and, according to the note issued by the municipality, “the municipal public management carried out by municipal services or municipalised services is the one that best adapts to the reality” and which, from a financial point of view, "should represent a superior added value" for the Municipality of Setúbal "and better tariff conditions for the users”.

For STAL, this is a great victory for the populations and workers, and is another example - after Mafra, Paredes and Santo Tirso, who rescued the concessions - which belies the proclaimed superiority of private management and confirms that these sections should not leaving the public sphere.

In this regard, the union recalls that in Fafe, where Indáqua charges one of the most expensive waters in the country, the contract ends at the end of 2021, as well as in Trancoso, another locality, so it reaffirms the demand that these municipalities put an end to privatization.

For this very reason, STAL will continue to fight for a law that prevents the privatization, in whatever form, of these essential services and demands the remunicipalization of privatized services, namely abusive contracts already declared illegal by the Court of Auditors.

Improve the public service and defend workers' rights

STAL hopes that the transition period that will elapse until the creation and installation of the municipal services takes place in a normal way, expressing, from now on, all availability to accompany and participate in this process, being unequivocal that the City Council will have to admit all workers, whose rights must be fully safeguarded.

As the Union has always stated, the privatization of water is a politically illegitimate, socially unfair and economically wrong decision, which seriously harms the interests of the municipality, populations and workers, for which the return of water to municipal public management, naturally constituting reason of satisfaction for those who, like us, consider that water is a right and not a business, it can and should be, above all, an opportunity to develop a management committed to the values of public service, to the defense of workers' rights and populations and the environment.

For our part, we are available and we will do everything to make it so.

STAL - Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Administração Local e Regional, Empresas Públicas, Concessionárias e Afins

Thinking of glaciers as actors in a world we inhabit in common

In 1944, as the Second World War raged and brutalised the world, Aldo Leopold asked himself the question of the « ethics of the Earth ». Faced with broken humanism and devastated living environments, this American forest engineer urges us to take a mountain point of view to shift internally and give us the means to change the world. What if our existences were mixed with those of other living beings and moving entities, and if together they formed a network tending towards a common future? What if humans, animals, mountains, forests, rivers, glaciers, and grasslands shared more than just a utilitarian relationship, and if they coexisted beyond or below narrow forms of cost calculations – interests that we, humans from industrial modernity, have assigned to them? These are the questions which animated the forerunner of ecological thought more than half a century ago; these are the questions we wish to ask today.

Our story is about a glacier. A glacier overlooking a deep valley in the Hautes-Alpes, at the foot of La Meije in the canton of La Grave. A glacier on which an operating company has decided to build a third section of the cable car, reaching a peak of 3,600 meters, thus becoming the worthy competitor of the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix. This infrastructure with the aim of providing summer skiing is totally obsolete in the age of climate change! In the future it would also open up the possibility of creating yet another super ski area, eventually linking the resorts of Alpe d’Huez, Deux Alpes and La Grave.