The war on the privatization of water widens from Italy to the EU. An embattled pan-euro of NGOs has just asked Brussels’s executive to stop imposing the dismantling of public utilities in the water sector that has recently been rejected by the Constitutional Court. NGOs have accused the European Commission of violating the principle of non-interference in national water management procedures, enshrined in Community legislation on services.
The casus belli is a letter delivered to the Greek government at the end of September by Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the Euro-government and Economic and Monetary Affairs Office. The document, intercepted by the activists of the Corporate Europe Observatory, insists that “privatization of public services, including water distribution can benefit the society,” reducing government spending and increasing efficiency.
Olli Rehn relies on the support of his colleague Janez Potočnik, a Euro-Commissioner for the Environment, who for months predicts the introduction of a market-based trading system, as required by the Water Framework Directive.
It is no coincidence that Greece is the stone of the scandal. This country, along with Portugal, had to accept the Brussels dictatorship that required the liberalization of municipal water services in exchange for the anti-crisis aid package.
Already in May, the NGO rope had requested explanations on Greek and Portuguese cases. Olli Rehn contradicted by announcing that he wanted to accelerate the push for privatizations in the framework of the reconciliation plans agreed with national governments. A policy that will have an additional weapon from 2013: the European Stability Mechanism adopted in March by 25 heads of state and government will allow the EU to dictate more stringent conditions to save a country’s economy.
It turns out that even our taps in our house have long been in the eye of Euro-liberators. He is Jan Willem Goudriaan, vice-secretary general of the European Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions (EPSU),the one to unlocking the background. In an open letter last January, Goudrian encouraged Mario Monti not to give in to the press that the EU had already begun to exert on his predecessor. Goudriaan cited a secret correspondence between the European Central Bank (ECB) and Silvio Berlusconi in July 2011, in which euro bankers called for “total liberalization of public services” and “large scale privatization of municipal services”.
In a subsequent article published on the website of the EPSU Goudriaan, he wrote the same thing as Olli Rehn’s thinking to the ECB. Also, just after the referendum victory that in July 2011 had rejected the privatization of the water proposed by Berlusconi government. The Vice-President of the European Commission called on the ex-premier to “explain what reforms are foreseen in the water sector despite the results of the recent referendum”.
And he would return to office at the beginning of Monti’s administration with a year-end report at the Eurogroup accusing Italy of “not doing enough” that “additional measures were needed” and that ” Water are considerably protected against competitive pressures. ” Monti tried to please the executive of Brussels with an ad hoc decree, but, as we know, he clashed against the wall of unconstitutionality.
And now the opponents of privatization move to counterattack, challenging Eurocracy. The Italian Water Movement, together with its foreign counterparts, is collecting the millions of signatures from at least seven different Member States that are needed to submit a citizens’ initiative to Brussels. his is a new direct democracy instrument introduced this year by the EU. The popular petition calls on the European Commission that “drinking water supplies and water management are not subject to” single market logic “and that water services are excluded from any form of liberalization.”
The match on the Rome-Brussels water remains for an equal score for now. At least as long as Italy will keep the decision announced a few days ago by President Giorgio Napolitano of not wanting to ask for EU aid. But privatization attempts could become more difficult to reject if our country were forced to bend to euro-rescue blackmails in the wake of an aggravation of the economic situation