MONITOR - Commission plans for water privatisation

Water is not just H2O, water is life. Access to water has been declared a human right by the United Nations. In Germany, water normally belongs to the cities and municipalities, so all of us – still. But that could change soon. With drastic consequences for Germany. The intention of the European Commission, it will begin here, in Portugal. Brussels demands that the country will sell its water supply. Here, in Pacos de Ferreira one began with the privatization of water already. Against the will of the citizens, as they tell us.

Citizens (translation MONITOR): "In the past you could drink the water here. It was good, fresh water! Not anymore! "

Second Citizens (translation MONITOR): "I'm 66 years old and have always drunk the water."

Citizen (MONITOR translation): "Now we will not even drink the water from the public well."

Third Citizens (translation MONITOR): "Yes, now is the public water not supposed to drink."

The Municipality of Pacos de Ferreira on the sale made a profit only once, now the citizens must live with the consequences. People show us their bills: And indeed, the monthly amounts are horrendous, many citizens now have problems paying their drinking water.
Humberto Brito, civic movement 6th November
Humberto Brito, civic movement 6th November (MONITOR translation): "The consequences of privatization here in Pacos de Ferreira were devastating. We had a 400% price increase in a few years. And then again every year 6% price increase. This is a disaster. "

Crisis countries such as Portugal and Greece need money, therefore the Troika in Brussels is forcing them now secretly to sell their water supplier. In the annex to the Troika contracts, MONITOR has obtained, you can see: In Greece the great waterworks of Athens and Thessaloniki shall be sold. To Portugal the annex states that the privatization of the national water companies "Aguas de Portugal" should be promoted. In Portugal, now more and more people protest against the privatization of water, because they are afraid of high prices and poor quality. But the crisis countries are just the beginning. The EU Commission now brings out the big blow. The new proposal for the concession directive actually hid the requirement that the market for water supply should be opened up. What does that mean? Heide Rühle, the water expert of the European Greens, has studied the proposal carefully. She believes that the Commission is close to achieving its goal - water privatization.

Heide Rühle, Member European Parliament, the Green Party: "The concession policy does not make it directly, does not open the door directly to the privatization of water, it makes it through the back door. So it opens, one millimeter by millimeter, the possibility that private companies enter the market, so that the market is opened up and that private access to the market. "

He even denies that he wants to privatize the water at all: the powerful EU Commissioner Barnier said that his policy would only reorganize the market.

Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market

Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market (MONITOR translation): "It's going to stay the way it is."

Yes, why do we need the directive then?

Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market (MONITOR translation): "Because we need rules. Each German municipality will continue to decide on their water, but now we give it the opportunity to hand the water over to a private partner, which this will be also regulated, for the benefit of the consumer. "

So there it is. The idea of the Commission: water licenses have to be tendered throughout the EU. But then it’s the private partners turn. Because with the dumping prices of big corporations, municipal operators cannot compete. This, while 82% of Germans want the water supply to be organized by the cities and municipalities.

Here, cities and municipalities even draw back single privatization. Let’s take the example of Berlin. In 1999, the water company was partially privatized. After mass protests, the city has begun to buy back shares, an expensive way, but the first success for this citizens' initiative. But the new strategy of the European Commission could negate this idea.

Gerlinde Schermer, Berlin Water Table: "The new EU directive will put everything under pressure for privatization. And Berlin's experience shows that even partial privatization, called a public-private partnership business, in reality only is for the benefit of the private companies. They have a guaranteed profit, and we pay. "

For private investors, water is a commodity like electricity or gold. Because water is an object of speculation, water is an economic good. Analysts estimate the water market in the EU at a three-digit billions sum. And they want it: big companies such as Thames Water and Veolia, as well as German companies RWE and Gelsenwasser just waiting that there will be privatized. Water privatization seldom has the promised effects, as a study by the University of Barcelona in 2010 confirmed. In it, there is evidence that after the privatization in some places the water quality had declined. But most of all: it not became cheaper.

Quote: "We can not ... proof the effect that private water production is cheaper."

Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory

Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory (MONITOR translation): "The promises which are always associated with water privatization, better service, lower prices, are not kept as good as ever. On the contrary, there is a tendency to rising prices and the promised investment into the water networks almost never become a reality. "

Because money for the expensive network building does not match the quick profit. Examples such as London or Bordeaux show: rotting pipes, dirt penetrates into the drinking water, the companies often then add chlorine or similar, to maintain hygiene. Why the EU Commission decides against the will of the European population? On what studies is this based? Who it is talking to behind those windows? For example, with them, with the Steering Group. A group of experts that advises the European Commission on issues of water policy. The list of participants is amazing, it mainly includes representatives from the water industry and related sectors.

Sorry, ... are on the list:

Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market (MONITOR translation): "I have not collected this group of experts in person, but if you want me to say that our expert groups should be more balanced, I can agree."

Christian Ude, President of the German Association of Cities: "It's really unfortunate that some competition commissioner only knows the needs of his partner from the CEO floors and not the needs of the population."

Water - a human right or water - a billion dollar business? Brussels has already decided: water in the future shall belong to the corporations rather than all of us.