Letter of Appeal: Save the Rivers of Stara Planina

The European Water Movement supports the following Letter of Appeal with 36 other NGOs.

Dear Madam/Sir,

We are addressing to you in order to gain attention and better visibility of the acute ecological problems in Serbia, and hopefully to get support from relevant international institutions.

In order to achieve higher production of the electrical energy from renewable resources Serbia has started building small hydroelectric power plants in different natural sites in the country. Unfortunately, the plants projects proved to be threatening the environment, since they do not respect the regulations considering smallest amount of water necessary for aquatic ecosystem sustainability. (A lot of plants are to be built on the streams and rivers with insufficient amount of water that during the summer season turn into brooks). At this very moment, building is performed in the protected zones of the Mountain Stara planina (Mountain Balkan). This mountain is of particular value due to its drinkable water, rich biodiversity, and distinguished beauty.

Read more...

European Water Movement says No to JEFTA!

The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) negotiations were launched on 25 March 2013 and were concluded in July 2017. JEFTA is going to be ratified by Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and Shinzō Abe Japanese Prime Minister on July 11th 2018 in Brussels.

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 previous Agreement signed and that has served as a model for JEFTA according the European Commission).

It would cover a quarter of the world’s GDP. Although the investment chapter was taken off there has been hardly any debate in European society and the European Parliament has had very few debates. It will be have to be voted after the summer if it is finally signed on 11th. 

JEFTA, despite the fact of its impact, does not take into account the demands of the European Water movement and the broader European civil society. We find this an scandalous response of the European Commission in contradiction with its previous replies.

Unlike in the CETA Agreement, there is not an article on « rights and obligations relating to water » in the JEFTA Agreement. This article, although insufficiently, excludes water «in its natural state » from the market. This exclusion does not exist in JEFTA.

Like in the CETA Agreement, that we have opposed, there is a reservation for public water supply in the EU providing protection from liberalisation obligations. Yet, the Agreement imposes progressive and mutual (reciprocal) liberalisation, we find this extremely worrying. As Japan grants market access to water supply in Japan there is a significant increase in pressure for further liberalization of water supply in the EU as well. Furthermore the Agreement includes the establishment of a number of Committees which could be beyond parlamentary control in certain cases. Further scrutiny appears to be necessary to find out if possibilities for liberalisation of water supply without the due parliamentary control result. In CETA the interpretative clause introduced by Slovenia gave us some coverage of this issue, there isn't such a clause in JEFTA due to the secretive nature of the negotiations.

Moreover, there is no horizontal exclusion for public utilities and environmental services in fully included, so therefore the water cycle is in danger of liberalisation. On top of that, unlike CETA, the German reservation for waste water services has been left out resulting in a market access obligation for waste water services in Germany as a consequence. We regard this as liberalisation through a trade agreement of the water cycle.

Last but not least, the « precautionary principle » is not mentioned. Therefore this essential fundament of EU consumer and environmental protection is continued to be undermined, especially regarding international issues.

For the above mentioned and the fast-track procedure taken by the European Commission we call on all European Union governments and all Members of the European Parliament to vote against JEFTA in the upcoming vote. The future of our water is a stake.

For more information: David Sánchez - hello (at) europeanwater.org , +32485842604

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 10 European Countries.

Open Letter: European Parliament, make the ECI work!

On 20 June, the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) of the European Parliament will cast a vote of crucial importance for the future of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).[*] With this open letter, civil society organisations [including the European Water Movement] and former ECI organisers call upon the European Parliament to take its responsibility for this participatory instrument by obliging itself to debate and vote on every single successful ECI in plenary before the Commission adopts its formal response.

Read more...

Irrigation and pesticide use : the French government at the service of the agro-industrial system

Press release by Attac France

Alongside the unprecedented offensive against public services and labour law, the government is radically changing water and agricultural policies, at the service of the agro-industrial system and under the false pretext of the fight against climate change.

In 2017, the Ministers Nicolas Hulot and Stéphane Travers relaunched the territorial projects concerning agricultural irrigation at the request of the FNSEA (Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d'Exploitants Agricoles) and Irrigants de France while creating an expertise cell on water resource management in the agricultural field. This cell has the undeclared objective of breaking down regulatory barriers, reducing or even eliminating environmental impact studies and associations' appeals against these projects; as is happening with wind power and methanisation projects. In addition, the government requires water agencies to participate in the financing of basins, hill reservoirs and water transfers, whereas this same government has decided to drain their budgets (relying almost solely on domestic user fees) and ask them to reduce their staff.

Read more...

Agbar takes Aliança contra la Pobresa Energètica to court

The water company denounces three activists for an action performed last February, thus trying to slow down the fight for the right to basic supplies.

Barcelona, May 7th 2018

From the APE (Aliança contra la Pobresa Energètica) we have worked since we were born to stop the supply cuts in Catalonia and have confronted the large multinationals of water, electricity and gas to demand the protection of such essential rights as the access to water and energy. We have achieved jointly with the PAH (Plataforma d'Afectats per la Hipoteca) and the ODESC (Observatori de Drets Econòmics Socials i Culturals), as well as with the support of many other entities and groups, to promote a law that has stopped more than 40,000 supply cuts in Catalonia and we have located the supply companies at the center of the problem, pointing to these companies with multimillionaire benefits, as responsible for a scourge that affects more than 10% of the population in Catalonia.

As of today, Aigües de Barcelona (Agbar-Suez Group) has decided to bring to trial three APE activists for a complaint action that took place at its commercial offices in Barcelona on February 27th. With this action, Agbar demonstrates to go against those who defend the rights of citizens and choose the path of repression against organized civil society.

Read more...