When it comes to water policy, the buzzword in the EU is water scarcity. By looking at this from a purely economic angle, when a product is scarce the price should go up. This would be the case if water were to be treated as an economic good, which the Blueprint reminds us of in the very first page. By defining our mismanagement and over-pollution of water bodies both above and under ground as water scarcity, it has provided an opportunity for industry to provide new high-tech solutions – desalination, waste water re-use technologies, bottled water in flood and drought relief zones. Instead of looking at holistic ways of managing our water in a sustainable manner through changing agricultural and energy production choices as well as overhauling the decision making process by integrating actual citizen participation, the Blueprint prescribes the same medicine which has been proven to fail before.
Some comments on the Blueprint and CAP review
Even though two-thirds of the group of experts from all Member States (MS) working on agriculture and water, the European Commission (EC) as well as other stakeholders agreed that “cross compliance should be strengthened, broadened and better enforced in order to ensure positive effects on ecological status and achieve the Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives”, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform did not propose any relevant measures.
This report by the New Policy Institute analyzes what has happened to the water industry in the UK since it was privatised by Thatcher in the late 80s. In a nutshell: very high profits fuelled by debt creation and low investments, and bad performance. The initial local then international corporations have now been mostly replaced by financial players.
The full report by the New Policy Institute (pdf, 410 Ko)
“Water worldwide becomes ever shorter. That is why we want to control the sources“.
Helmut Maucher, CEO Nestlé 1990 – 1997.
The Water Resources Group was launched in 2008 as an initiative coming from Nestlé, Coca Cola, Pepsi Co and the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank. Its aims are to “transform the water sector” by bringing the corporate sector into what has traditionally been a public service. Despite the fact that the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman reported that 40% of complaints received from all regions in the world were water related and that in Europe, especially in France, Italy and Germany, there are strong social movements reclaiming public control of water, the World Bank and the bottled water industry uses their combined power to push for water privatization through Public-Private Partnerships.