Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, has called on her Fine Gael colleagues in the European Parliament not to oppose or water down Parliament’s recognition of water as a basic human right, coming to a vote at next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg.
Speaking from Brussels, Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, where the report was prepared, said:
“We got this important text through at committee stage in Parliament in face of the opposition of Fine Gael’s group, together with the Tory group.
“This is an unfortunate and worrisome development. Fine Gael’s group did support the principle of access to potable water and sanitation as a fundamental human right prior the last European Election.
“Now that the time has come to demand legal action from the Commission to respond to our citizens’ basic aspirations, their commitment has evaporated into thin air.
“I voted in favour of this text, steered by my Dublin colleague, Lynn Boylan, so that we can move towards rules that will prevent the commodification of water.
“I call on the rest of our colleagues to join us at the final, full vote, to safeguard water provision from market rules and any obligations under international trade agreements.”
Parliament’s position criticises the European Commission’s inaction on foot of a European Citizens’ Initiative calling for EU legislation to ensure that all citizens have access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
Back in December 2013, the Citizens’ initiative on the Right to Water was the first ever procedure of this kind to meet the requirement of at least one million EU citizens’ signatures from at least a quarter of the EU Member States in one year.
Having succeeded with 1.68 signatures across 13 EU countries, this European Citizens’ Initiative obliged the European Commission to consider legislating on the topic or otherwise explain its reasoning, under the Lisbon Treaty rules.
However, the Commission’s official response failed to meet the citizens’ demands or even to make any substantive commitments to secure universal access to water and sanitation. This is criticised in Parliament’s report.