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EU Commission fails to protect water services- Lynn Boylan MEP

3 November, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP and author of the Right2Water report Lynn Boylan has called on the European Commission to clarify if water management is definitively excluded from Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations in light of concerns raised by the European Water movement that the EU- Canada free trade deal (CETA), will allow privatisation of water services in through the back door.

Speaking from Brussels, where Ms. Boylan was key note speaker at the European Public Services Union annual conference, she said:

“As we delve into the consolidated text of the recently negotiated free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA), we note that the choice on how to manage services of general economic interest (SGEI), relating to water services, is not watertight.

“The legal language surrounding the rights and obligations relating to water is hazy and in spite of assurances from the European Commission that water services would be exempt from this trade agreement we are now looking at a text which worryingly creates a legal grey area for water and sanitation services instead of guaranteeing the legal certainty which is required.

 “The misnomer regulatory co-operation raises its head again. This term is a process by which private companies consult on legislative procedure which is deemed to affect trade and can object, amend, delete as appropriate if it interferes with business.

“The prioritisation of corporate rights over human rights to water and sanitation is being pursued enthusiastically through international trade agreements such as CETA or TTIP including via arbitration chapters which would allow private companies to sue governments for any legislation which affects their profit is a major concern for water and sanitation.

“Indeed, earlier this year, one of the world’s largest private water companies, Suez, was able to successfully sue the Argentinian government for a staggering $405 million for trying to lower water prices after its economic crisis.

“Earlier today I attended an Executive Committee of the European Public Services Union to discuss my Right2Water report which was passed by the European Parliament last month. The report clearly calls on the Commission to grant a legally binding exclusion to water and sanitation services in any trade deal it negotiates, both now and in the future. I urge the European Commission to wake up and listen.”

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