MEP for Dublin Nessa Childers, welcomed today’s vote in the European Parliament to recognise water as a basic human right, including sanitation, and urging the Commission to review EU legislation to that effect.
Speaking from Strasbourg after the plenary vote, Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, where the report was prepared, said:
“It was very important to carry this text through Parliament, despite the opposition of Fine Gael’s group, together with the Tory group, to affirm that water and sanitation are public goods we must safeguard from private profit seekers.
“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.
“We want to safeguard water provision from market rules and any obligations under international trade agreements, and stand opposed to their privatisation.”
“These are amongst the most essential services all citizens require, so the production, distribution and treatment of water and sanitation must be excluded from international trade liberalisation.
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.