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‘Water is not a commodity, it is a part of our heritage’

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20140218PHT36376_originalAccess to good-quality water was the topic of the first-ever official hearing held for a European citizens’ initiative at the European Parliament on 17 February. The Right2Water campaign wants universal access to clean water and sanitation and opposes the liberalization of water services. They collected nearly two million signatures in order to ask the European Commission to produce EU legislation on this. The European Parliament talked to the organizers to find out more.

Kampanijos „Right2Water“ organizatoriai ragina Komisiją garantuoti visiems europiečiams galimybę naudotis vandeniu ir sanitarinėmis priemonėmis bei suteikti teisiškai privalomas garantijas, kad vandens paslaugos ES nebus liberalizuotos.

“Water is not a commodity, it is part of our heritage,” said Anne-Marie Perret (nuotraukoje, dešinėje), president of the Right2Water citizens’ committee. “We think the initiative is a step in the right direction, but we need to go further and convince the whole Commission to stop applying internal market and competition rules, which are technocratic, and move towards rules based more on the principles of social justice and democracy.”

Citizens’ initiatives give people the chance to ask for new European legislation, provided organisers collect at least one million signatures  from all over the EU in support of the plans. Perret said it was important to educate people more on the possibilities the initiatives give them, although she acknowledged that one of the problems was getting enough signatures. “Some of the citizens refused to sign because they had to give their ID number,” she said. “There were also big problems with the online signing.”

Klausyme, kurį organizavo aplinkos komitetas, dalyvavo „Right2Water“ organizatoriai, Europos Parlamento nariai ir Komisijos viceprezidentas Marošas Šefčovič, kurie iki kovo 20 dienos parengs oficialų atsakymą į šią iniciatyvą.

“I believe the European consensus will work,” said Perret after the hearing.  “We have to help the Commission shift beyond the sole idea that market is divine. There are also human rights concerning EU citizens that have to be clearly talked about, respected and promoted in order to be protected.”

Matthias Groote, a German member of the S&D group and head of the environment committee, chaired the hearing. “During the meeting we could see how important this issue, the human right to water, is,” he said, adding that it would have been good to have a representative of the governments present during the hearing.

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