5 October 2018
The European Water Movement supports the call expressed by the group of citizens “Odbranimo reke Stare planine” for the preservation of the rivers of Stara Planina, a mountain in south-eastern Serbia, and other rivers endangered by the derivative type of small hydropower plants.
The European Water Movement includes movements, social organizations, committees, unions from different European countries. They are united to fight against commodification of water and privatization of water and sanitation services, for water as a commons and public and communal management of water and sanitation services, founded on the democratic participation.
The European Water Movement promotes a policy at European level that preserves aquatic ecosystems and water quality, and ensures access to safe drinking water and sanitation for present and future generations. It opposes any infrastructure project (dams, water transfers, etc.) that conflicts with the objectives set out above and will have a negative impact on the climate and the water cycles. The construction of derivative hydropower plants on the rivers of Stara Planina is clearly one such project. Stara Planina is a natural area of great importance in terms of biodiversity and water. These hydropower plants would not only damage rivers and the springs of clean drinkable water but will also threaten the fauna and flora that depend on them. Moreover, they would affect the quality of life of people who live along the mountain rivers.
The Water Framework Directive of the European Union requires that the good ecological status of water bodies be preserved or restored through rigorous river basin management. The European Commission regularly reminds European states, whether or not they are members of the EU, of this major objective of the Directive. But it is surprisingly silent on the multitude of dam projects in the Balkans that will have dramatic social and environmental consequences. The EBRD and the EIB have been involved in financing some of the dam construction projects in the Balkans. Some European private companies have been awarded concession contracts after botched environmental studies. It is time for the European Commission to explain itself and put an end to these contradictions.
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