World Wetlands Day: The European Water Movement calls to defend the Ebro Delta

Brussels, february 2nd 2016


The Ebro River is the third longest river in the Mediterranean, after the Rhone and the Nile, passing through 9 nine Autonomous Communities before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea where it forms the Ebro Delta (Catalonia).

The Ebro Delta is one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands in Europe. This delta area of nearly 8000 Ha was declared as National Park, recognized as being of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, recognized as Special Protection Area for Birds (SPAB - 79/409/CEE), a Community Interest Area (CIA - 85/337/EEC) and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


The intense water consumption throughout the Ebro Basin puts the river under strong pressure and affects its ecological functionality. In particular, the Delta is the most vulnerable part of the river, altered by the drastic reduction of water and sediment flows that leads to the subsidence of the whole delta area, currently lowering at a rate of 0,3 cm per year. Climate change projections clearly indicate that this phenomenon, together with the sea level rise, will cause the disappearance of 80% of this territory in the next century.


Letter to commissioner Vella

Brussels, November 23rd 2015

Dear Commissioner Vella,

The European Water Movement is asking your support for a substantial implementation of the report of the European Parliament on the European Citizens Initiative Right2Water. We supported this ECI. It was the first ever-successful ECI after receiving the support of almost 1.9 million citizens across the EU. The Parliament adopted its position on this ECI in its resolution on 8 September 2015. It outlined specific proposals that must be enacted in order to achieve the goals of the ECI. Mainly, the text calls for the full implementation of the human right to water and sanitation as recognized by the UN in the EU, the exclusion of water and sanitation services from trade agreements, and that there will be no liberalisation of water and sanitation services in the EU. And this includes also keeping water and sanitation services outside of the scope of the concessions directive. The Parliament also made a strong call to the Commission to abstain from pushing for water privatization in the context of austerity measures in Greece, despite overwhelming public opposition.


The Free Trade agreement between the EU and Canada threatens water management

Brussels, 30 October 2015.

During the secret negotiations of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada (know as CETA), the European Commission always maintained that water would be excluded from the treaty, and that the choice on how to manage Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) related to water (production and distribution of drinking water and sanitation, among others) by the public authorities would not be questioned. But a careful reading of the consolidated text of CETA, released the 26th of September of 2014 shows that the reality is different.

Rights and Obligations Relating to Water

The article "Rights and Obligations Relating to Water" is written in fuzzy legal terms, sometimes even in contradiction with EU and national legislation. No doubt the vagueness and loopholes in this article will facilitate a corporate capture of water by multinational companies in Europe and Canada. The article states that "water in its natural state [...] is not a good or a product and therefore [...] is not subject to the terms of this Agreement." But almost all water uses (drinking water, sanitation or agricultural irrigation) involves water extracted from its natural environment. It could, therefore, be considered as a good and a product, and could be treated as a commodity and therefore subject to CETA. The article adds: " Where a Party permits the commercial use of a specific water source, it shall do so in a manner consistent with the Agreement" without clearly defining what is a "commercial use” for water or a "specific water source." Currently it is up to Member States in Europe to allocate water abstraction rights and they do so by different criteria, but not with criteria based on trade and investment that can be found in free trade agreements. Under these conditions there is no other way to read this article as anything but one additional tool to move towards an increased water commodification.


European Water Movement's opinion on the vote in the Committee of Environment of the European Parliament on the Right to Water report

The Committee on the Environment of the European Parliament voted on June 25th on a report about the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. The European Water Movement, as one of the promoters of the ECI, welcomes the fact that the European Parliament takes a position and calls on the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals to make the human right to water a reality in Europe and beyond. We fully share their concern that nearly two million signatures cannot be ignored if the European Institutions don’t want to widen the huge gap between Brussels-based decisions and European Citizens.


The European Parliament votes for the Right to Water in Europe!

Brussels, 8 september 2015.

Today's vote is a great victory for democracy, civil society and for each of almost 2 millions citizens who signed the European Citizens Initiative on the Right to Water.

The report on the follow-up to the European Citizens' Initiative Right2Water, supported today in the European Parliament by a majority, passed with no major changes, despite a countermotion proposed by the EPP and the ECR groups.

The position of the European Parliament on the Right to water is clear!

The Commission is now called to implement the right to water in Europe through production of effective legislative tools to make the human right to water and sanitation a reality.

Water is endorsed as vital to human life and dignity, not to be treated as a commodity. Therefore, water services must be excluded from trade agreements, such as the TTIP.


European Parliament committee supports the human right to water

June, 25th 2015.

Brussels - The Committee on the Environment of the European Parliament voted today on a report about the European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, as a result of a campaign that gathered nearly two million signatures all across Europe.  Members of the European Parliament confirmed their strong support for the human right to water.

"European citizens have time and again spoken out in favour of water as a human right and a common good. Whenever asked, they have massively supported public water management", said David Sánchez, Campaigns Officer at Food & Water Europe, "MEPs in the Committee on Environment are asking the European Commission to act accordingly. We expect the Parliament's Plenary vote in September to confirm this result and the Commission to finally listen to EU citizens."