Manifesto for the Commons in the European Union

Common goods are universal: they belong to everyone and they must not be monopolised by private interests. European Institutions, as guarantors of fundamental civil liberties, peace, cultural diversity and the rule of law, must ensure respect for, and the preservation of, these common goods.

Common goods, by definition, belong to the community. Water, the quintessential common good, should not be privatized or commoditised. Nor should this be the case with education and health. They ought not to be treated as commodities, but rather us our common heritage, protected and enriched by the community.

In a context of crisis and austerity, where privatisation is often encouraged, a political approach based on respect for common goods represents an opportunity to establish a new democratic project for European society, one based on citizen participation, respect for fundamental rights and cultural, moral and intellectual development.

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Water concessions detriment to the public good

Statement by The National Union of Local and Regional Government Workers (STAL)

Portuguese Court of Auditors uncovers profiteering in the water sector

An investigation by the Court of Auditors has uncovered the true consequences of private management of the water sector: private companies pocket hefty profits whilst residents and local authorities are left to pick up the bill.

A report published on 27th February by the Portuguese Court of Auditors into Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the water sector vindicates STAL’s ongoing struggle to expose the consequences of privatising public services in the water and sanitation sector. It shows how detrimental these deals are both for local authorities and ordinary citizens, who are forced to pay all the costs whilst private companies pocket hefty profits.

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Swiss judiciary must investigate the Nestlé case

ECCHR files complaint to the Federal Tribunal

Berlin / Zürich, 9 January 2014 – The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, together with Zürich-based attorneys Marcel Bosonnet and Florian Wick, have brought the case of the murdered trade unionist Luciano Romero to the Federal Tribunal. They represent the widow of the Colombian activist who had worked for a
subsidiary of Nestlé. In December 2013, the Swiss Cantonal Court in Vaud rejected a
complaint against the closing of investigations. The Cantonal Court thereby confirmed the reasoning of the Prosecutors Office that the investigations were statute-barred. After 15 months of inactivity, the Prosecutors had decided not to initiate investigations against the managers of Nestlé or the company itself.

In doing so, the Court failed to understand the statute of limitation with respect to the
corporate liability, which does not depend on the date of the crime. The company has not undertaken any measures in order to remedy deficient organization in the company. This so-called organizational deficit, on which Nestlé’s liability is founded, cannot therefore be statute-barred. Furthermore, the Court does not take into consideration the recent legal opinion of the Swiss Federal Council, which supports the reasoning of ECCHR and the attorneys Bosonnet and Wick.

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Right2Water urges privatisation ban in first EU Citizens’ Initiative debate

Organisers of the “Right2Water” campaign urged the EU Commission to guarantee access to water and sanitation as a human right, and give a legal undertaking that water services will not be liberalised in the EU, in the first European Parliament debate on a European Citizens’ Initiative in Parliament on Monday. MEPs shared the view that access to water is a basic human right, but some pointed out that rules on providing drinkable water remain the remit of EU member states.

The hearing, organised by the Environment Committee, in association with Development, Internal Market and Petitions committees, brought together representatives of the “Right2Water” Citizens Committee, MEPs and the European Commission, which will draft a response to the initiative by 20 March.

“Parliament recognised that water is a shared resource of humankind and a public good and that access to water should constitute a fundamental and universal right in its the resolution of 3 July 2012 on the implementation of EU water legislation”, but “We need to do more to foster the participation of all actors of our society to make sure that the protection of water resources and of drinking water in particular is reflected into all our policies” said Environment Committee chair Matthias Groote (S&D, DE).

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The European Citizens’ Initiative on Water and the "austeritarian post-democracy"

1- The context and the victories

In times of savage austerity, strategies to privatise public services are multiplying. In particular, countries dependent on EU 'aid' are forced by the Troika to sell off water and other fundamental public utilities, as conditions for receiving EU loan packages. No surprise at similar "shock therapy": neoliberalism uses the crisis to destroy social rights and to privatise commons, public goods and public services. In other words, austerity is a tool of neoliberalism and the objective of the decision to pursue austerity policies was made to exploit the opportunities opened up by the crisis, not to bring the crisis to an end. And so it is a question of continuing, or rather, of accelerating, the redistribution of income, of wealth and political power from the bottom towards the top that has been taking place since the 1980s: an “upside-down” redistribution threatened by the sudden crisis and by the failure of neoliberal policies. At the present time, in the midst of a crisis of overproduction, public services become another vital area for capital to colonise, in order to ensure it continues to be rewarded with ample profit margins. Now the fairy tale about how “efficient” and how “economical” private management of fundamental services are has proven just that, a fairy tale, as far as public opinion is concerned, since empirical experience of privatisation has been of an increase in rates and a decrease both in the quality and in the universality of the services. And with a change of tack, that which was previously marketed as “better” and “efficient” is now simply passed off as “compulsory”: they say that it is necessary to sell off and privatise in order to raise cash and thus decrease public debt, and they persist in describing a private debt crisis as a sovereign debts crisis.

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