Update of the Greek Water situation

Thessaloniki, 24th of January 2018

On 15th January, the Greek parliament voted a law to pass the 3rd evaluation of the Troika. Among others, the law includes the transfer of water companies (51%) straight to the Superfund. When the Superfund was created, the idea was that all public companies would be transferred to a holding company which would be a subsidiary of the Superfund. In fact, the new scenario is worse than the previous one.

Just a day after the vote in parliament, TAIPED (HRADF) announced the update of its privatization projects, among them 24% of EYATH (water company of Thessaloniki) and 11% of EYDAP (water company of Athens). Since the 3rd memorandum, they had been talking about selling 23% of EYATH; which now has become 24%, leaving the public with only 50% + one shares.

In September 2016, the Union of EYATH workers sued the Supreme Court for the creation of the Superfund and the transfer of EYATH to it. This case will be judged by the end of February. Now we are researching whether the 2016 action to sue is consistent with the transfer that will take place on 15th January or whether we need a new one!

Since November, together with SOSte to Nero, we have organized meetings and negotiations with the Mayors’s union (PED) that did the water referendum in Thessaloniki with us. We plan to make a campaign starting from February. Many events will happen in the city on the topic of water privatization. The peak of the campaign will be on 18th May, the 4th anniversary of the water referendum. We agreed that the mayors will finance the showing of Yiorgos Avgeropoulos’ film "Up to the last drop" in municipal cultural centers. We will organize a call for volunteers at the beginning of February.

Concerning the application of the EU’s Water Framework Directive, there are currently no official reports. We know that municipal water companies have to prepare them but they are not ready yet.

Two days ago, a press article was published on the next evaluation (4th) of the Greek financial rescue program. The 4th evaluation includes water and energy.

According to the Third Review of the European Stability Mechanism Programme (see pp. 35, 36, 40 and 41), Greece needs a stable regulatory framework that allows investments in water supply networks and protects consumers.

  • Greece must forward the change of the boards of municipal water companies.
  • Greece must clarify the geographical jurisdiction of DEYA (municipal water companies), EYDAP and EYATH, so that there are no overlaps.
  • By February, the law should be amended to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the institutions by renewing the composition and operation of the National Water Committee. Among the members to be added, the Minister of Labor and two NGOs.
  • By February, the Special Secretariat for Water[1] will assess the operation of the data collection system as well as the strategic plans of EYDAP and EYATH.
  • By March, the Special Secretariat for Water should have adopted a six-year action plan to strengthen its governance, administrative capacity and financial autonomy.
  • By April, the new costing and pricing system for water services should be put into operation in accordance with the Water Framework Directive.

As a union, we are thinking of organizing a meeting with the boards of the unions of other public companies that have been transferred to the Superfund. All the companies together have more than 40.000 workers. The Superfund is the biggest employer in the country, so the workers must organize themselves!

Yiorgos Archontopoulos, Union of the EYATH workers

[1] The Special Secretariat for Water has the competence to draw up the programs for the protection and management of the country's water resources and to coordinate the services and the state bodies on all issues related to the protection and management of water. One of the main functions of the Secretariat is the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, which was incorporated into national Law 3199 of 2003, with the aim of achieving the good ecological and chemical status of the country's waters. The Secretariat, in cooperation with the Regional Directorates of Waters, prepares national programs for the protection and management of the country's water resources and monitors and coordinates their implementation. Prior to their adoption, programs are introduced for consultation at the National Water Council. The Secretariat is organized in Directorates and Departments and is headed by the competent Special Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.