Letter to commissioner Vella

Brussels, November 23rd 2015

Dear Commissioner Vella,

The European Water Movement is asking your support for a substantial implementation of the report of the European Parliament on the European Citizens Initiative Right2Water. We supported this ECI. It was the first ever-successful ECI after receiving the support of almost 1.9 million citizens across the EU. The Parliament adopted its position on this ECI in its resolution on 8 September 2015. It outlined specific proposals that must be enacted in order to achieve the goals of the ECI. Mainly, the text calls for the full implementation of the human right to water and sanitation as recognized by the UN in the EU, the exclusion of water and sanitation services from trade agreements, and that there will be no liberalisation of water and sanitation services in the EU. And this includes also keeping water and sanitation services outside of the scope of the concessions directive. The Parliament also made a strong call to the Commission to abstain from pushing for water privatization in the context of austerity measures in Greece, despite overwhelming public opposition.

There is a need for the Commission to take action to resolve these issues. The Communication of the previous Commission (Barroso) of 19 March 2014 lacked ambition and completely disappointed the nearly two million European citizens that supported the ECI. It failed to meet the specific demands made in the ECI. It reiterated already existing commitments. The response given by the Commission to the Right2Water ECI was clearly insufficient and therefore must be rectified; a demand now supported by the European Parliament.

Currently, Eurobarometer surveys show consistently low levels of public trust in the EU and its institutions. However, the ECI serves as an excellent opportunity for the Commission to re-engage with citizens and start to re-build this trust. The Commission can capitalize on this by making a clear political commitment to ensure appropriate action is taken in response to the concerns raised by this ECI. Specifically, the Commission should urgently come forward with legislative proposals that would recognise universal access and the human right to water. Failure to act would only serve to undermine the first direct involvement by citizens in EU decision-making. The ECI as an instrument of participatory democracy would be severely discredited.

We look forward to the concrete actions the European Commission will propose.

Yours sincerely,

The European Water Movement
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EWM letter to Commissioner Vella