Standing up for public provision against privatisation
Left-wing MEPs today met with experts, NGOs, and local and national representatives to discuss the detrimental affects of, and responses to, the privatisation of public services both in Europe and further afield.
The conference “Privatisation of Public Goods”, opened by GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer this afternoon in the European Parliament, saw debate on alternatives to transferring ownership of public services to the private sector, experiences from Latin America, Italy, Berlin and Paris, and testimonies of the consequences of privatisation for citizens, workers, and democracy.
German MEP Thomas Handel welcomed the recent decision to exclude the water sector from the scope of the new concessions directive saying “the European Commission decided to follow the concerns of many Europeans”.
“Citizens have been expressing their concerns about the privatisation of this public good – water – for a long time,” he said. “Those protests have proved successful. Obviously the Commission now accepts that demands for access to a high quality and affordable water supply will not be waived that easily. Water is a human right and cannot be given to the market, to profit-oriented rules”.
“Access to drinking water and sanitation is a fundamental right recognised by the UN. Water is a natural resource, it cannot be owned by anyone and its management cannot be a source of profit. We must remain vigilant, especially because the concessions directive will have adverse impacts on other sectors, “said French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat, calling the removal of the water sector from the concessions directive a “victory for citizen mobilisation”.
Irish MEP Martina Anderson said that “the push for privatisation of water services is a phenomenon with which we are unfortunately all too familiar with in Ireland, both north and south. In the North, Sinn Féin was able to successfully halt proposals to privatise water services. Unfortunately, in the south, the coalition government are all too willing to bring such measures in. Extracting more money from struggling families to please the Troika has once again won out over the provision of quality services to their citizens.”
David Lundy +32 470 85 05 09
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08