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“Water is a human right and must be protected from privatisation”- Lynn Boylan MEP

30 April, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has met with the Water Management Group, an interest group in the EU Parliament, to discuss elements of her "EuropeanCitizens' Initiative Right2Water" report.

Ms Boylan said:

“The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) mechanism was hailed, when it was introduced under the Lisbon Treaty as a new revolutionary mechanism for participatory democracy. It was to be the direct line for citizens to engage with the institutions at a time when trust in the institutions is at an all-time low.

“The first successful ECI was the Right2Water and it garnered close to 2 million signatures, nearly double the required amount.

The ECI has three main tenets, including guaranteed water and sanitation for all in the EU, no liberalisation of water services and universal access to water and sanitation globally.

In terms of the report I have attempted to address what I consider are the most important points, underscoring that water is a human right and it must be protected as a public good.

The Commission response to this citizen’s initiative has stated that water service management is a matter for the member state but we have seen very deliberate attempts by the Commission in its role within the troika to pursue a privatisation agenda.

Greece, Italy and Portugal have all experienced pressure to sell off their water services. In my own country Ireland the troika insisted on the introduction of domestic water charges in addition to the more progressive taxation model that currently funds the water provision.

Also the setting up of a single utility, in the form of Irish Water to manage these charges while denying the citizens a referendum to protect against privatisation has set alarm bells ringing in many community, trade union and political entities.

The mass mobilisations we have seen across the EU and the world around the issue of water and the need for it to be recognised as a human right should be a red flag to the Commission that highlights that water is different.

There is something fundamental about access to water that rallies communities together, the likes of which we have seen in Ireland in recent times.”

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