International Civil Society Groups Ask the European Parliament to Support the Human Right to Water

Brussels – More than forty civil society organisations from all over the world sent a letter today to Members of the European Parliament encouraging them to support the Human Right to Water in the vote on the Directive on the Quality of Water for Human Consumption that will take place in the plenary in Strasbourg next week.

Marcela Olivera, coordinator of the Inter-American Network for the Defense and the Right to Water (La Red VIDA) said: “The vote at the European Parliament will have a huge impact on access to water for all in Europe, but will also contribute to shape global policies on water. The European Parliament has a great responsibility to push Europe to lead the way to implement the Human Right to Water and to show its commitment to achieve goal number 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The signatory organisations asked members of the European Parliament to support the Alternative Compromise Amendments to article 13 of the mentioned directive that would result in a real commitment to provide access to water for all in the EU. The compromise amendments would also be a big step forward in the effort to stop plastic pollution, as they would encourage restaurants and bars in the EU to provide free tap water, encourage municipalities to install public fountains and encourage public administrations to stop selling bottled water.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch added: “In addition to affirming the human right to water, members of the European Parliament can use this opportunity to move Europe closer to its goal of tackling plastic pollution from bottled water. Europe is importing US fracked gas to produce plastic, which is devastating the global environment and local communities alike. Avoiding bottled water in restaurants and public buildings like the European Parliament would be strong signal in the right direction.”


The letter can be found here


David Sánchez, Food & Water Europe, +32 (0) 485 842 604 , dsanchez(at)

European Water Movement – Food & Water Europe – Wasser in Bürgerhand 

The European Commission once again disappoints citizens that supported the Initiative for the Right to Water

Brussels, 31st January 2018. Today European water advocates said the leaked proposal for a new Drinking Water Directive is disappointing and doesn’t meet the expectations of the citizens and organisations that supported the first successful European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) on the right to water. The review of this directive was framed by the Commission as their only answer to the ECI. Five years later, this draft doesn’t meet any of the demands supported by nearly two million people.

Elisabetta Cangelosi, member of the European Water Movement said, “Five years waiting for an answer and the result couldn’t be more disappointing. Although we welcome the timid attempt of the Commission to include provisions about universal access to water and the emphasis on minorities and vulnerable groups, this text has nothing to do with the human right to water recognized by the United Nations and demanded by citizens”.

The Human Right to Water as defined by the United Nations implies that water and sanitation must be physically accessible, safe, acceptable, sufficient and affordable. The draft Drinking Water Directive addressed just the first three aspects.

David Sánchez, director at Food & Water Europe added, “The proposal from the Commission simply ignores the main challenge for the Human Right to Water in the European context, affordability. With thousands of families having their water cut-off in Europe in recent years for not being able to pay the bills, guaranteeing access is not enough. We need political courage from the Commission to challenge private companies that make profit out of water management to really implement this human right in Europe”.

The proposal also includes provisions to promote free access to water in public spaces, including public buildings, but it falls short as this provision is not specific about it being tap water.

Jutta Schütz, member of Wasser in Bürgerhand added, “The Commission vague wording allows the interpretation that installing vending machines with bottled water would be enough. We need to close this gap so the Drinking Water Directive is coherent with the efforts to get rid of plastics at the European level such as the Plastics Strategy or the Circular Economy Package, and to challenge this unacceptable, environmentally-damaging industry”.


Elisabetta Cangelosi, European Water Movement, +32 488 08 00 21 (mobile), [email protected]

David Sánchez, Food & Water Europe, +32 (0) 485 842 604 (mobile), dsanchez(at)

Jutta Schütz, Wasser in Bürgerhand, +49 (0) 157 390 808 39 (mobile), [email protected]

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right.


Governments and Social Movements Concerned about the Impact of CETA on Water

Brussels – As the EU Council and the European Parliament are about to vote on the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA, or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), more questions have been raised about its impact on water as a resource and on water services. In response to a list of questions raised by the Slovenian Government to the European Commission (1), European and Canadian organizations sent a letter to EU governments raising their own concerns (2).

David Sánchez, a campaigner with Food & Water Europe said: “CETA will open the door to corporate water grabs, and push further commodification of water resources. It also creates new legal uncertainty for public authorities delivering water services.”

The EU and Canada are discussing a draft “Joint Interpretative Declaration” to be published at the time of signature of CETA. The aim would be to clarify the most controversial parts of the agreement. In the leaked first drafts possible impacts on water are denied (3).

Jutta Schutz from the European Water Movement added: “The European Commission and Canada had time enough to take water out of the treaty. Instead, they introduced dangerous provisions written in fuzzy legal terms that will only be clarified when decisions from public authorities are challenged in court. The draft joint declaration is legally uncertain and just a bad joke. If we want to consider water as a commons, and access to water as a Human Right, we need to reject CETA.”



  1. The Slovenian government raised concerns about the ambiguity of terms like “commercial use of a water source”, how the agreement applies to existing water rights and the future ability of national governments to put limits on concessions already granted without being subject to claim under ICS, among others. The document can be found here.
  2. The letter from Food & Water Europe, the Council of Canadians, the European Water Movement, Blue Planet Project and Wasser in Bürgerhand can be found in this link.
  3. A leaked draft can be checked here.


David Sánchez, campaigner, Food & Water Europe, +32 (0) 2893 1045 (land), +32 (0) 485 842 604 (mobile), dsanchez(at)

Jutta Schultz, Speakperson, European Water Movement / Wasser in Bürgerhand, +49 (0) 157 390 808 39 (mobile)

Fracking and the Food System



FoodandWaterEuropeFrackingFoodThe oil and gas industry likes to promote fracking as a boon to farmers and rural communities, but the dream often turns into a nightmare. In the United States, fracking has polluted water wells, sickened people and livestock, and reduced available farmland — proving that fracking and a healthy food system are not compatible.

As seen in the United States, the rapid expansion of oil and gas fracking has created significant environmental and public health problems.


Many of these problems are inherent to the practice and cannot be avoided through regulation, which is why fracking should be banned.

Find out more about why we need to:

  • Move past the false promises of the oil and gas industry
  • Invest in economic development in rural communities that safeguards our food and water
  • Develop policies that allow farmers to make a fair living farming on their land, rather than resorting to leasing their farms for polluting energy production.

Broken Promises, Light Touch Regulation – UK Fracking Policy a Failure

Brussels, 14 December 2015 – The UK Government’s stated goal “to assure the public that the shale industry is being taken forward in a measured and reasonable manner” is a failure, according to a consultation response submitted by Food & Water Europe today.

“The disconnect between the Government’s sunny promises and its actions is glaring, and people can tell when they’re being sold a pup,” said the organisation’s EU Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell. “They break promises, sideline Parliament, and all the while the Government keeps saying, ‘Trust us.'”

The Government is consulting on proposals to restrict fracking from wells “drilled at the surface in specified protected areas”, appearing to portray the impacts of fracking as confined or containable. Yet water contamination, for example, can happen deep underground long distances from the well heads, due in no small part to modelling that is not sophisticated enough to reliably predict what will happen when huge pressures and temperatures are forced into complex natural systems.

“Clearly, National Parks are no place for fracking, but that’s not the point,” said Mitchell. “For a start, new rules mean protected areas can be ringed by wells fracking from below. Damage is inevitable, unpredictable and uncontrollable. Well placement, while important, can’t fix that. People won’t somehow be convinced that fracking can be safe just because the Government says so when they’ve already broken big promises.”

In January, the Cameron-led Government made an unequivocal “public commitment to an outright ban on fracking in National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, raising public expectation that a ban would mean a ban. Yet, since then:

  • The Government moved to renege on its promised fracking ban in SSSIs and raised disquiet by going through Committee (avoiding Parliamentary debate) to permit fracking non-vertically under protected areas.
  • The Government announced that local planning authorities must fast-track fracking applications, and the Government can now decide (over the heads of local people) in any appeals companies lodge.
  • The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced that Cuadrilla’s controversial application in Lancashire for the UK’s biggest fracking project to date would be the first appeal decided this way. Cuadrilla’s fracking in Lancashire was halted in 2011 by earthquakes the company admits it caused.

Mitchell added, “Far from reassuring the public, this kind of thing reminds everyone that promises can be broken and regulations can be altered if the ‘burden’ on business is deemed too high. This is too important to get wrong, it’s dangerous economically and environmentally, and the Government isn’t even being strict about liability when things go wrong. While the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments begin to apply the brakes, England will be left to bear the brunt of the UK Government’s ambitions for fracking. We’ll all feel the effects if we don’t stop it.”

“The dislocation of UK Government policy is clear to the whole world thanks to the COP21 climate meeting in Paris. Back home, we know the only sensible approach to fracking is to ban it. The experience of other countries is shocking, people don’t consent and they’re right to object. Fiddling with the fine print isn’t the answer.”

For more information please contact:

Eve Mitchell, EU Policy Advisor – +44 (0)1381 610 740, [email protected]

European Parliament Makes Strong Call to Implement Human Right to Water; Commission Should Listen

Today, the Plenary of the European Parliament approved the report on the European Citizen’s Initiative – Right to Water [1], as a result of a grassroots campaign that gathered nearly two million signatures from across Europe. The European Parliament called on the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals to make the human right to water and sanitation a reality. A majority of the Members of the European Parliament endorsed water as a public good, vital to human life and dignity, which should not be treated as a commodity.

“The European Commission cannot keep on ignoring the demands from nearly two million citizens, the European Parliament, the European Social and the Economic Committee for the implementation of a human right already recognized by the UN,” said David Sánchez, campaigns officer at Food & Water Europe. “Continued inaction would just result in a great loss of credibility for the European institutions.”

The report also demanded the European Commission to abstain from pushing for water privatization in the context of austerity measures in countries like Greece, and called on the Commission to permanently exclude water, sanitation and wastewater disposal from internal market rules and from trade agreements.

“Today’s vote marked a great victory for citizens. Now is the time for the European Commission to finally react,” added Sánchez.

Contact: David Sánchez, Campaigns officer, Food & Water Europe, +32 (0) 2893 1045 (land), +32 (0) 485 842 604 (mobile), dsanchez(at) [1]