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Irish Government must defend human right to water at EU Council - Lynn Boylan MEP

22 June, 2018 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

In advance of the upcoming meeting of European Environment Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan has written to the Minister of the Environment, Denis Naughten and Minister Eoghan Murphy insisting that they defend the human right to water and to ensure that it will be enshrined in EU legislation.

Speaking ahead of the European Council Meeting, Ms Boylan stated: 

“The European Citizen's Initiative, an instrument introduced to address the democratic deficit in the European Union looks set to fail at the first hurdle.

"The first successful initiative was the Right2Water, it collected almost double the required amount of signatures with over 1.8 million people across Europe demanding that the right to water be enshrined in EU law. 

"The Commission responded by proposing a reform of the Drinking Water Directive.  In article 13 of this reform proposal they include references to access to water and calls on Member States to ensure that accessibility. 

“However the EU Council is already geared up to attack this Article and make the Directive purely about water quality.

"Some Member States do not want obligations on access to water as it would prevent disconnections of low income households in Member States that have water charges, in other Member States it is being opposed for discriminatory reasons such as preventing Roma communities from accessing water. 

"It is vital that our representative at the Council stands up for the human right to water and ensures that Article 13 is not torn apart as it is already weak enough as it stands.

“As lead negotiator on this file and the Rapporteur for the European Parliament's response to the citizen's initiative, I have amended this proposal heavily, to reinforce the human right to water. 

"It will be appalling if Minister Naughten, who represents Ireland at the Council meeting, chooses to allow this article to be weakened or worse still dented altogether. 

The Sinn Féin Dublin MEP added :

“I have submitted 82 amendments to this proposal, and I have made legal arguments as to why the Objectives of this directive must now reflect the right to water and not just the quality. 

"It is my opinion that the right to water should be enshrined in all policy areas concerning water and that water is recognised as a public good and not a commodity, an opinion shared by citizens and water movements from across the Member States."

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