Stop the EU’s Services Notification Procedure

The European Water Movement signed the following CEO open letter with more than 75 other organizations.

Open letter to the EU governments

Stop the EU’s Services Notification Procedure - municipalities need democratic space to protect the interests of citizens!

We, representatives of European cities, civil society groups and trade unions, want to express our deep concern about the proposed Services Notification Procedure. Instead of reporting afterwards, new rules and laws would in the future have to be notified in advance and receive prior approval from the European Commission.

This would reduce space for progressive policies, including at local level. As stated in a September 2018 resolution by the city council of Amsterdam, the proposed Notification Procedure creates unnecessary delays and “seriously harms the autonomy of local governments and therefore poses a threat to the local democracy.” The proposal would create major new obstacles for progressive municipal policies, such as much-needed measures to protect affordable housing.

The proposed Procedure is disproportional and at odds with the subsidiarity principle as well as the obligation of the EU to respect regional and local self-government, as outlined in the Lisbon Treaty.

Cities have a crucial role to play in solving Europe’s social and environmental problems and in deepening democracy with active citizens’ engagement. The proposed Services Notification Procedure would restrict the democratic space of municipalities and is therefore completely unacceptable.

Open letter with the signatories

Letter to the MEPs on the recast of the Drinking Water Directive

Brussels, 17 october 2018

Dear MEP,

Early this year, the European commission approved the recast of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD). For the first time legislation takes somehow into account the demands of the first ever successful European Citizens Initiative (ECI) Right2water.

The European Water movement has been one of the key stakeholders in the success of this ECI.

On the 11th of September, the ENVI committee of the European Parliament voted the report on the Recast of the Drinking Water Directive. Some key amendments, crucial to achieve the Right2Water, were rejected by a slim majority of MEPs. The text should now be presented in plenary on the 23rd of October in Strasbourg.

Alternative amendments regarding art. 1 and 13, aiming at “providing universal access” to water and reinforcing measures to achieve it have been tabled again . We call you to support them and reaffirm that Member States shall take all necessary measures to provide universal access to water!

The DWD is a great opportunity to make the human right to water a reality, it is time for European Parliament to take the stand!

We are very much looking forward to receiving your support on this crucial dossier for all European citizens: the revision of the Drinking Water Directive is a good occasion to finally implement the Right2Water in EU legislation and show that the EU can deliver on concrete issues for European inhabitants’ daily life.

We demand you to vote in favour of these alternative amendments. We trust we can count on you to support the Human Right to Water!

Best Regards,

The European Water Movement supports the call for the preservation of the rivers of Stara Planina

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.

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Letter of Appeal: Save the Rivers of Stara Planina

The European Water Movement supports the following Letter of Appeal with 36 other NGOs.

Dear Madam/Sir,

We are addressing to you in order to gain attention and better visibility of the acute ecological problems in Serbia, and hopefully to get support from relevant international institutions.

In order to achieve higher production of the electrical energy from renewable resources Serbia has started building small hydroelectric power plants in different natural sites in the country. Unfortunately, the plants projects proved to be threatening the environment, since they do not respect the regulations considering smallest amount of water necessary for aquatic ecosystem sustainability. (A lot of plants are to be built on the streams and rivers with insufficient amount of water that during the summer season turn into brooks). At this very moment, building is performed in the protected zones of the Mountain Stara planina (Mountain Balkan). This mountain is of particular value due to its drinkable water, rich biodiversity, and distinguished beauty.

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Letter on TSD chapters

Dear Mr Lange, dear Members of the International Trade Committee,

The public debate around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and the ratification of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), has made it clear that a new approach is needed for “Trade and Sustainable Development” (TSD) chapters contained in EU Free Trade Agreements: These cornerstone chapters need to deliver concrete impacts. EU trade policy must ensure that it does not harm but instead supports and protects human, social and labour rights, the environment and the animals.

As a response to the strong debates in the European Parliament and growing concern of civil society, DG Trade’s non-paper[1] presented only two opposite options:

  • the EU’s current approach with some minor improvements;
  • the approach adopted by the US and Canada which is based on sanctions and has not been successfully applied yet.

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European Water Movement says No to JEFTA!

The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) negotiations were launched on 25 March 2013 and were concluded in July 2017. JEFTA is going to be ratified by Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and Shinzō Abe Japanese Prime Minister on July 11th 2018 in Brussels.

JEFTA is the biggest trade agreement ever concluded by the European Union, with a country which GDP is three times higher than the one of Canada (the previous Agreement signed and that has served as a model for JEFTA according the European Commission).

It would cover a quarter of the world’s GDP. Although the investment chapter was taken off there has been hardly any debate in European society and the European Parliament has had very few debates. It will be have to be voted after the summer if it is finally signed on 11th. 

JEFTA, despite the fact of its impact, does not take into account the demands of the European Water movement and the broader European civil society. We find this an scandalous response of the European Commission in contradiction with its previous replies.

Unlike in the CETA Agreement, there is not an article on « rights and obligations relating to water » in the JEFTA Agreement. This article, although insufficiently, excludes water «in its natural state » from the market. This exclusion does not exist in JEFTA.

Like in the CETA Agreement, that we have opposed, there is a reservation for public water supply in the EU providing protection from liberalisation obligations. Yet, the Agreement imposes progressive and mutual (reciprocal) liberalisation, we find this extremely worrying. As Japan grants market access to water supply in Japan there is a significant increase in pressure for further liberalization of water supply in the EU as well. Furthermore the Agreement includes the establishment of a number of Committees which could be beyond parlamentary control in certain cases. Further scrutiny appears to be necessary to find out if possibilities for liberalisation of water supply without the due parliamentary control result. In CETA the interpretative clause introduced by Slovenia gave us some coverage of this issue, there isn't such a clause in JEFTA due to the secretive nature of the negotiations.

Moreover, there is no horizontal exclusion for public utilities and environmental services in fully included, so therefore the water cycle is in danger of liberalisation. On top of that, unlike CETA, the German reservation for waste water services has been left out resulting in a market access obligation for waste water services in Germany as a consequence. We regard this as liberalisation through a trade agreement of the water cycle.

Last but not least, the « precautionary principle » is not mentioned. Therefore this essential fundament of EU consumer and environmental protection is continued to be undermined, especially regarding international issues.

For the above mentioned and the fast-track procedure taken by the European Commission we call on all European Union governments and all Members of the European Parliament to vote against JEFTA in the upcoming vote. The future of our water is a stake.

For more information: David Sánchez - hello (at) europeanwater.org , +32485842604

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right. It has members in 10 European Countries.