Vote on Jefta in the European Parliament

Dear MEP,

The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) negotiations were launched in March 2013. Between 10 and 13 December the plenary of the EU Parliament is planned to vote on the agreement.

JEFTA is the biggest trade agreement ever concluded by the European Union, with a country which GDP is three times higher than the one of Canada - the party for the previous agreement, CETA, that has served as a model for JEFTA according to the European Commission.

While CETA had included a number of shortcomings for water resources as well as for public water and wastewater management, the provisions of JEFTA even fall short of CETA. Additionally a considerable amount of power will be transferred from the EU Parliament to highly intransparent committees.

Unlike in the CETA Agreement (Art. 1.9), there is no article on "rights and obligations relating to water" in the JEFTA Agreement. This article, although insufficiently, excludes water "in its natural state" from becoming a market commodity and, although also insufficiently, preserves the rights of public authorities to decide independently how to allocate water resources.

Because of CETA's shortcomings on water some member states had insisted on including clarifications on water in the - legally not binding - CETA Joint Interpretative Instrument (No. 11, p. 8). Especially the declaration of Slovenia to the Council minutes highlights CETA's deficiencies and stresses the right of Slovenia to limit or cancel the awarded water rights (No. 23 p. 18). All this is missing in the JEFTA agreement.

We remind you that water is essential for life. In times of water shortages becoming a widespread phenomenon also in the EU we have to regard anyone approving JEFTA as acting highly irresponsibly.

Moreover, JEFTA also falls short of excluding sectorally wastewater services from market access obligations making only this significant service subject to a horizontal clause (public utilities clause) which has not been designed for the use of negative lists for services. A number of experts has pointed out to the high legal incertainty of this clause as well as a high number of undefined terms in the agreement in general. Now, in JEFTA, this legal uncertainty reaches an alarming extent as the overarching JEFTA-internal committee, the Joint Committee, is allowed to adopt legal interpretations of provisions of the agreement (Art. 22.1 para 5, p. 548). This allows an independent legal development of JEFTA - even against the will of the European Parliament (Art. 218 para. 9 TFEU) ! This issue is not only related to water but to any topic which is covered by JEFTA.

It must be obvious and clear to any member of Parliament that any consent to JEFTA would equal handing over a considerable amount of entrusted power from the European Parliament to a highly intransparent JEFTA committee! Your mandate does not include allowing such a transfer!

Also, the JEFTA agreement includes a negative list for services. During CETA negotiations, European Parliament had made clear that it would only once as a mere exception accept a negative list in a trade agreement, see No. 5, resolution P7_TA(2011)0257 of 8 June 2011. JEFTA would be the first agreement including again a new negative list. If the Parliament wants to be taken seriously, it has to stick to its own resolutions and reject the use of a negative list in JEFTA.

Regarding all this, we have to firmly call on all Members of the European Parliament to vote against JEFTA in the upcoming plenary. The future of our water as well of our parliamentary democracy is a stake.

Best regards,

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right. It has members in 11 European Countries.

hello (at) europeanwater.org

Stop the EU’s Services Notification Procedure

The European Water Movement signed the following CEO open letter with more than 75 other organizations.

Open letter to the EU governments

Stop the EU’s Services Notification Procedure - municipalities need democratic space to protect the interests of citizens!

We, representatives of European cities, civil society groups and trade unions, want to express our deep concern about the proposed Services Notification Procedure. Instead of reporting afterwards, new rules and laws would in the future have to be notified in advance and receive prior approval from the European Commission.

This would reduce space for progressive policies, including at local level. As stated in a September 2018 resolution by the city council of Amsterdam, the proposed Notification Procedure creates unnecessary delays and “seriously harms the autonomy of local governments and therefore poses a threat to the local democracy.” The proposal would create major new obstacles for progressive municipal policies, such as much-needed measures to protect affordable housing.

The proposed Procedure is disproportional and at odds with the subsidiarity principle as well as the obligation of the EU to respect regional and local self-government, as outlined in the Lisbon Treaty.

Cities have a crucial role to play in solving Europe’s social and environmental problems and in deepening democracy with active citizens’ engagement. The proposed Services Notification Procedure would restrict the democratic space of municipalities and is therefore completely unacceptable.

Open letter with the signatories

The European Water Movement supports the call for the preservation of the rivers of Stara Planina

5 October 2018

The European Water Movement supports the call expressed by the group of citizens “Odbranimo reke Stare planine” for the preservation of the rivers of Stara Planina, a mountain in south-eastern Serbia, and other rivers endangered by the derivative type of small hydropower plants.

The European Water Movement includes movements, social organizations, committees, unions from different European countries. They are united to fight against commodification of water and privatization of water and sanitation services, for water as a commons and public and communal management of water and sanitation services, founded on the democratic participation.

The European Water Movement promotes a policy at European level that preserves aquatic ecosystems and water quality, and ensures access to safe drinking water and sanitation for present and future generations. It opposes any infrastructure project (dams, water transfers, etc.) that conflicts with the objectives set out above and will have a negative impact on the climate and the water cycles. The construction of derivative hydropower plants on the rivers of Stara Planina is clearly one such project. Stara Planina is a natural area of great importance in terms of biodiversity and water. These hydropower plants would not only damage rivers and the springs of clean drinkable water but will also threaten the fauna and flora that depend on them. Moreover, they would affect the quality of life of people who live along the mountain rivers.

Read more...

Letter to the MEPs on the recast of the Drinking Water Directive

Brussels, 17 october 2018

Dear MEP,

Early this year, the European commission approved the recast of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD). For the first time legislation takes somehow into account the demands of the first ever successful European Citizens Initiative (ECI) Right2water.

The European Water movement has been one of the key stakeholders in the success of this ECI.

On the 11th of September, the ENVI committee of the European Parliament voted the report on the Recast of the Drinking Water Directive. Some key amendments, crucial to achieve the Right2Water, were rejected by a slim majority of MEPs. The text should now be presented in plenary on the 23rd of October in Strasbourg.

Alternative amendments regarding art. 1 and 13, aiming at “providing universal access” to water and reinforcing measures to achieve it have been tabled again . We call you to support them and reaffirm that Member States shall take all necessary measures to provide universal access to water!

The DWD is a great opportunity to make the human right to water a reality, it is time for European Parliament to take the stand!

We are very much looking forward to receiving your support on this crucial dossier for all European citizens: the revision of the Drinking Water Directive is a good occasion to finally implement the Right2Water in EU legislation and show that the EU can deliver on concrete issues for European inhabitants’ daily life.

We demand you to vote in favour of these alternative amendments. We trust we can count on you to support the Human Right to Water!

Best Regards,

Letter on TSD chapters

Dear Mr Lange, dear Members of the International Trade Committee,

The public debate around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and the ratification of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), has made it clear that a new approach is needed for “Trade and Sustainable Development” (TSD) chapters contained in EU Free Trade Agreements: These cornerstone chapters need to deliver concrete impacts. EU trade policy must ensure that it does not harm but instead supports and protects human, social and labour rights, the environment and the animals.

As a response to the strong debates in the European Parliament and growing concern of civil society, DG Trade’s non-paper[1] presented only two opposite options:

  • the EU’s current approach with some minor improvements;
  • the approach adopted by the US and Canada which is based on sanctions and has not been successfully applied yet.

Read more...