European citizens’ initiative
ECI to defend water as a human right
By Sophie Mosca | Thursday 26 April 2012
Gathered in front of the symbolic statue of Manneken Pis, on 24 April, the Mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, MEP Françoise Castex (S&D, France) and the President of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), Anne-Marie Perret, lent their support to the European citizens’ initiative (ECI), ‘Water is a human right’.
This ECI, presented to the European Commission on 1 April, aims to require member states to guarantee sufficient clean drinking water and quality sanitation to all their citizens. Its proponents recommend a legislative initiative that assures a change in the European approach to water: a shift from today’s market-based approach to one based on the universal right to water, with the focus on public service.
“Water is a public good, not a commodity,” observed Perret. “We want a legislative initiative that takes account of the specific ecological, economic and societal stakes of water.”
“We have to build awareness that water management is global and that privatising distribution throws the whole cycle out of balance. Many public authorities are learning this the hard way and are re-municipalising this crucial resource for European citizens,” explained Castex. Thielemans added: “Since 2009, the mayors of many large European cities have joined the drive to preserve this essential right. They realise that they play a key role as representatives of the first level of democracy and guarantors of local public services”.
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