Blog Posts: Right to Water

October 22nd, 2018

Providing Universal Access to Water for all in the European Union Could Help Reducing Plastic Waste

By David Sánchez

This Tuesday, the plenary of the European Parliament will vote on a legislation regulating water for human consumption. The European Commission is framing this directive as an answer to the European Citizens’ Initiative for the Human Right to Water.

Already more than forty civil society organisations from all over the world sent a letter to Members of the European Parliament encouraging them to support the Human Right to Water in this vote. Now, organisations fighting waste and plastic pollution reminded MEPs of the importance to be coherent with efforts done under the circular economy package and take clear commitments to reduce the consumption of bottled water in the European Union.

You can check out the joint letter with Friends of the Earth Europe, Zero Waste Europe, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Seas at Risk, Rethink Plastics, Break Free from Plastic, Environmental Investigation Agency and Food & Water Europe.

See the letter

November 29th, 2017

Up to the Last Drop: The Secret Water War in Europe

By David Sánchez

Water is a human right and a common good. But it is also one of the main focuses of transnational corporations that want to profit from this scarce resource. The struggle to defend public water is now exposed in the new documentary Up to the Last Drop: The Secret Water War in Europe.

For decades, corporations have pushed for the privatization of public services – including water. In Europe, several attempts supported by the European Commission have been launched since the neoliberal wave of the 90s. Still, today some of the countries affected by the austerity crisis – Ireland, Greece, Portugal – are resisting water privatization imposed by the Troika. Water has been on the negotiation table of the new wave of free trade agreements like TTIP and TISA, and is included in CETA, which contains several provisions that put public water management and water resources under international trade and investment mechanisms.

Read the full article…

January 26th, 2017

2017 – Food & Water Europe Is Ready To Stand Its Ground

By Andy Gheorghiu, Frida Kieninger, David Sánchez

Many people said 2016 was a bad year. And there were many reasons: the result of the US elections, Brexit, or the high toll of environmental activists that were killed for standing for their communities around the globe. We don’t know what 2017 will look like, but we are sure that we want to be ready for some of the challenges we will find for our food, our water, our climate and our democracy. Together, we need to make 2017 a better year. And united we will have the power to do so!

Read the full article…

October 12th, 2016

Hitting The Wall: How European Institutions Insist On Privatizing Greek Water

By David Sánchez

foodwatereuropegreekwaterrightsBrexit was a real shock here in Brussels. For the first time, a member state decided to leave the club. It was really tempting to expect a reaction, a debate about the role of EU policies in this collective failure. But this European Union captured by big companies and ruled by a dogmatic neoliberal elite keeps doing business as usual. What happened in the last few weeks in Greece was another brutal example.

Read the full article…

March 16th, 2016

Super Mario Bros Vs. the European Commission

By David Sánchez

FoodandWaterEuropeActNowRightToWaterEvery Tuesday evening, an office in the second district of Rome opens its doors in an old cinema to provide information to families whose water supply has been cut-off for not being able to pay the bills. This self-organized group called Bastadistacchi puts families in touch with Super Mario and his patrol of water activists, who break the seal installed by the water company so those families can have their right to water.

A few months ago, the regional Ombudsman from Andalusia, in southern Spain, published a new report stating that water poverty is a severe problem after many years of austerity policies. Some sources estimate around one million water cut-off warning letters are sent every year in Spain. Just one company, Agbar-Suez, admitted that they initiate 12.000 water cut-offs per month. The regional ombudsman was concerned about the situation suffered by many families who cannot afford to pay water bills, and advocated for regulation guaranteeing that nobody can be deprived from access to water for economic reasons.

Read the full article…

November 18th, 2015

No Water in the Land of Plenty

By Marek Szilvasi, European Roma Rights Centre

Water Is a Human RightThe Human Right to Water and Sanitation is still not a reality in Europe. All across the continent there are people living without access to clean water, and many of them are Roma. Europe is home to 10-12 million Roma people.

Since 2014 the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) – an international public interest organisation working to combat anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma – has been conducting research on access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation in Romani neighbourhoods in seven countries. We have focused on analysing problems with accessibility, affordability, and quality of drinking water resources, as well as with sanitation in Romani neighbourhoods and settlements. The research has also examined potential cases of ethnic discrimination in the distribution and availability of these public utilities.

Read the full article…

October 21st, 2015

Another Day, Another Distraction for the Human Right to Water

By David Sánchez

New Mantras, Old Problems

WaterIsAHumanRightThere is a new mantra in the EU water debate: transparency. The European Commission, after ignoring the nearly two million signatures asking for the implementation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, is trying to keep people busy by launching a number of bureaucratic initiatives, based on mantras like transparency.

But what does transparency mean? For many private water operators it seems that overflowing people with technical data can be enough. But If I think on what information is important to me, my first thoughts go the quality of the water I am drinking. I would also like to understand my water bill and my taxes, so I can know where my money is going. Is it being invested to improve water infrastructure? In measures to control pollution of our water resources? To guarantee the right to water of those facing economic problems? Or is it going to the shareholders of a multinational company?

Read the full article…

September 3rd, 2015

No Summer Rest for Water Activists

By David Sánchez

FoodandWaterEuropeHumanRight2Water

What a summer! I was expecting the typical Brussels holiday season: empty streets in the European area, hardly any emails, no phone calls and, as the only sound around, the hypnotizing noise of wheeled suitcases while thousands flee the city. But I was wrong, a lot of activity around!

Read the full article…

May 19th, 2015

Water Privatization, Corruption and Elections in Spain

By David Sánchez

Food & Water Europe: 2015 Elections in SpainSpain is holding regional and local elections this Sunday. As a Spanish immigrant in Belgium, and a water activist, this week my attention will be split between the activity in Brussels and the elections, which will be an important milestone in the struggle for public water in Europe.

These elections are really special because Spain is a country going through an extremely long crisis. Its economy and welfare state have been destroyed by austerity policies, while the political parties that ruled the country for decades are involved in a series of corruption scandals. As a reaction, many citizen movements have organized to run for the elections, and remunicipalization of public services, including water, is one of their key targets. Read the full article…

March 31st, 2015

When Brussels Met the Real World: The Fight for The Right2Water

By David Sánchez

FoodandWaterEuropeRight2WaterRuling a whole continent should not be easy. Even more complicated when you do it from a city like Brussels, where it is relatively simple to lose track of the reality beyond the “Brussels bubble“, a closed environment crowded by a highly educated, well-paid elite of civil servants, politicians and lobbyists. Read the full article…

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