The Naples Manifesto

The Naples Manifesto is our founding document. It covers our goals, principles and fields of action.

The Naples Charter of the European Movement for Water as a Commons

I. Goals

We decide to unite, giving life to a continental network, in a moment of strength and victories of numerous water movements around Europe. The time is ripe to take this step together.

We decide to unite in this decisive moment, during a serious systems crisis that has shaken the world and Europe to its core, convinced that a participative management of water and of the commons can construct a path out of this crisis generated by neoliberal policies and which could act as a base for creating a new cooperative, just, inclusive and solidarity-based European social model.

We decide to unite because we are aware that our local efforts in our respective countries, though of course fundamental and essential for every European campaign, alone are not enough: on one hand the big capitals are increasingly moving towards a supranational terrain, on the other hand the European Commission and the European Central Bank are becoming the spokespersons of the financial world, demanding the privatization of the commons, services and our public heritage.

In order to face the challenges of our time, we need to construct stable relationships and campaigns coordinated at the European level, for water as a commons.

II. Principles

The European movement for Water as a Commons is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network of movements, social organizations, committees, unions whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right, an essential element for all living beings. We feel that we are also part of a general movement for the commons, of which water is a symbol and together we want to ban the privatisation and commodification of this vital good, to construct a public and communal management of water, founded on the democratic participation of citizens and of workers.

The European coalition recognizes, with the global movement for water justice, certain fundamental principles and in Europe asks for:

  1. The recognition and implementation of the human right to drinking water and sanitation as necessary for life. Access to water as a universal human right should be included in all constitutions of member states, and in the basic principles and acts of the European Union.
  2. Water to be excluded from all international trade agreements, including the treaties of the World Trade Organisation and to be excluded from the internal market rules of the European Union.
  3. The European Commission, European Council and individual European governments to withdraw their support from the World Water Forum, which is a flawed framework for decision-making on water. As adopted in an European Parliament resolution in March 2006, it is inappropriate for the World Water Council, a private body without any democratic legitimacy, to be allowed such influence over global water policies.
  4. The European Union and member states to affirm that water is a common good essential to life and as such cannot be categorised as a ‘commodity’ to trade like any other. Ownership and management of the integrated water cycle should be public, democratic and participatory at a community level. The principles of public participation, full transparency and democratic accountability must be respected.
  5. The European Union and member states to guarantee the right to good quality water, recognizing that this can only be guaranteed under public control.
  6. Political and financial support for various forms of public-public partnership, through international development and financial cooperation to ensure access to water, through the exchange of best practice among public enterprises and local authorities on models of participation and solidarity between citizens and communities from different countries and regions, including those suffering from droughts.
  7. The investment needed to secure safe and sustainable water supply for all in Europe and across the world be achieved as a collective responsibility, which should be paid for also through general taxation.
  8. The prohibition of industrial contracts for the exploitation of bottled water in order to protect and conserve this resource for future generations.
  9. Sustainable management practices that protect the ecology of natural water cycles and maintain the quality of water in our rivers and aquifers. This management model should also avoid the construction of big infrastructures projects (dams, fluvial interconnections, etc).
  10. The promotion of the maintenance and preservation of the water cycle as a fundamental “mitigation strategy” against climate change to be integrated into the UNFCCC negotiations. It is not acceptable to destroy the water cycle through the construction of mega hydroelectric stations in order to produce supposedly “clean” energy.
  11. Good working conditions for public water company employees. Workers must also be fully integrated into democratic decision-making processes on the development of water services.
  12. A firm opposition to the EU and the European governments on the transformation of water into a new financial asset within the framework of the “Green Economy” and to the implementation of a global freshwater market.

III. Actions

The European Water Movement  also stems from the necessity of organizing immediate actions and campaigns for the remunicipalization of water services where they have been privatized, or for maintaining public management, with true democratic participation and social control, where the commodification of water services have not yet been imposed.

The Movement will have a common platform to guide immediate actions to modify existing European directives or to work as a base for new bottom-up proposals for new directives and new principles for the governance of water in the European Union. These elements, already included in our 12 fundamental points, can be summarized in four main points:

  1. Water is not a commodity, it is a collectively owned commons and a universal right and like other natural elements, it is fundamental for the balance of ecosystems and for the survival of the planet, its management must take into consideration the rights of the Nature.
  2. Ownership and management of water services and water infrastructure have to be public, participative and under social control;
  3. “Full cost recovery” as a guiding principle of financing integrated water services in Europe needs to be changed, instead, securing access to water and securing funds for investment in extraordinary infrastructures should be achieved through general taxation;
  4. The participation of citizens and workers in the management of services is a necessary condition for having a new governance model of the commons.

The European Movement for Water as a Commons believes it is fundamental to launch or join concrete transnational campaigns, which can meet these objectives according to the principles contained in this Charter. To this end, we will use all the instruments of participative democracy available in the European Union, starting from the European Citizen’s Initiative and the European Parliament petitions. The European coalition, though working on the issue of water, is open to dialogue and collaboration with all Movements and Networks who struggle against the privatisation of public services and commons.

The European Movement for Water as a Commons will work to oppose in every single country, in all of Europe and in the entire world, neoliberal policies and privatization policies which have generated the terrible financial, economic, social and environmental crisis in which we find ourselves today. The movement commits itself to stopping the financialisation of water in its different forms to protect all natural resources from increasing financial speculation. Including the promotion of a Financial Transaction Tax to curb speculation.

The cause of this crisis can never be the solution for the grave problems which Europe is encountering. To the contrary, it is the participative, social and democratic governance of fundamental commons, starting with water, that is the key to securing access to essential commons for everyone. To redefine a new European social model and a new solidarity-based economy, with respect for rights and the environment, leaving behind a Europe of markets, of finance and of competition.