To the Irish Government and the European Commission
European citizens have been resisting for years the wave towards water privatization, promoted by industry, governments and the European Commission. This push is now imposed by the Troika in countries in crisis, and adopted by Governments as a way to try to ease their debt. Ireland is the last victim and the members of the European Water Movement want to express their solidarity with Irish citizens resisting water charges imposed by their government and the Troika. We also want to remind the European Commission that it should propose legislation to recognize and implement the demands of the first ever successful European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI).*
Citizens all over Europe have repeatedly shown that they are opposed to water privatization and commodification. They showed through the mentioned ECI for the Human Right to Water, supported by nearly 2 million people. They showed it in Greece when the privatization of the public water companies imposed by the Troika and the Greek government was stopped. They did it in Italy with a massive support against the profit of the private water companies in a national referendum. They did it through popular consultations in Madrid, Berlin, Thessaloniki and many other big and small cities around the continent. And this movement is changing the trend, with more than 180 cities, including Paris and Berlin, regaining public control over their water management in the last years.
More than 150.000 people mobilized the 1st of November all over Ireland against water charges, following months of protests and resistance. Water charges in Ireland will discriminate those with less economic means and the unemployed. Water charges are another regressive tax in a time where citizens have been asked to do too many sacrifices to solve an economic crisis they did not cause. Irish public water system is already paid for through general taxation, which is progressive, and Irish people have shown that they wish it to remain that way.
The right to water campaign in Ireland may differ from the rest of Europe, where water charges are implemented in most countries. But the struggle is the same. Resisting water charges means fighting for access to water as a universal Human Right, and against the commodification of water. And it means blocking future possible options of water privatization.
The European Water Movement is a network whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and access to water and sanitation as a fundamental universal right. Therefore we support Irish citizen’s resistance against water charges and call the Irish Government and the European Commission to stop pushing water privatization and commodification, to implement the Human Right to Water as recognized by the United Nations and to exclude water and sanitation services from ongoing and future trade negotiations.