Privatization of Water, First Issue for EU Citizens Initiative

The European Union is experimenting with a new mechanism that allows average citizens to have a say in policy-making.

Introduced in 2012, the EU Citizens’ Initiative allows citizens to propose policies if they can get 1 million signatures spread across at least seven of the 28 member countries.

"It’s rare that we have something this new," Olga Kurpisz, a policy officer at the European Commission, told Reuters. "This is a very new instrument. It’s an historic experience, which is taking place in the EU. It’s difficult. The outcome is unknown."

After a proposal is submitted and they meet with the organizers to understand it in depth, the Commission has three months to make a decision on whether they will act on it and explain their reasoning.
The first issue is now in front of the EU, and it’s about whether water should be supplied to citizens by private companies or public utilities.  


The organization Right2Water, gathered 1.8 million signatures, and formally submitted a proposal that says water services should be solely in the public domain. "Water is a public good, not a commodity," they say and the "human right to water" to be enshrined in EU law, reports Reuters.

"The goal of European Citizens’ Initiatives is to spark pan-European debates on issues that concern citizens across Europe, and get those issues onto the EU agenda. Right2Water has certainly achieved that," says Marcos Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission.

A public hearing is expected to take place next month in the European Parliament. Portugal and other EU countries are considering selling their public water companies to pay off debt, and others already have water supplied by private companies.

Learn more at Right2Water:

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