Thursday, May 15, 2014
European Commission fails to take real steps towards the recognition of the Human Right to Water
The European Water Movement regrets that the European Commission decided not to take real actions, ignoring 1,9 million citizens
Brussels - The European Commission (EC) made public today the communication on the European Citizen’s Initiative on the Right to Water . The communication fails to respond to 1,9 citizens asking for a legislative provision excluding water and sanitation from “internal market rules” and liberalization. The EC’s reaction is lacking in real legislative proposals, and it boils down to a compilation of already ongoing actions plus the announcement of a public consultation on the drinking water directive whose outcomes will not be binding.
While the Communication acknowledges the importance of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation and it confirms water as a public good, the EC fails to propose legislation that recognizes this right. The Commission also commits to promote universal access to water and sanitation in its development policies, including the promotion of public-public partnerships.
Water and sanitation services were excluded from the concession directive thanks to public pressure, but the Commission has not committed in its Communication to explicitly exclude these services from the trade negotiations (such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership - TTIP).
The answer of the European Commission to the first European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) to achieve the required support will not reassure European citizens who question the democratic legitimacy of the European institutions. The European Water Movement considers that overall the Communication does not address the actual demands to guarantee the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, and implies a bad precedent for the future of the ECI mechanism.
Water privatization remains a very concrete menace in the EU. In countries like Greece and Portugal, the Troika is pushing for water privatization , and more and more citizens are being deprived of water access in municipalities where water supply is managed by private companies . In line with the signatures collected for the Initiative, citizens are fighting against water privatization across the EU, with many examples of massive mobilizations in Italy with the 2011 binding referendum , the local consultations in Madrid and Berlin, more recent mobilizations in El Puerto de Santa María (Spain)  and upcoming local public consultations in Thesaloniki (Greece)  or Alcazar de San Juan (Spain) 
Water should be a commons, not a commodity. The European Citizen’s Initiative  expected the European Commission to propose legislation implementing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation as recognized by the United Nations, and to promote the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all. The European Water Movement will continue to support local struggles in places such as Thesaloniki or Alcazar de San Juan to ensure that water is declared a common good. And it will remind candidates in the elections for the European Parliament of the importance of recognizing that water is a human right, to concretely act towards its implementation and to avoid liberalization and commodification of water and sanitation services
For more information:
David Sanchez, dsanchez(at)fweurope.org, +32 485842604
Caterina Amicucci, camicucci(at)recommon.org +39 3498520789
The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network of movements, social organizations, local committees and unions whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right, an essential element for all living beings. We are part of the global water justice movement. We are united to fight against privatisation and commodification of this vital good, and to construct a public and communal management of water, founded on the democratic participation of citizens and of workers.
 For example, more than 200 families were deprived from water supply in Jerez (Spain) after the water management was assumed by Aqualia http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/
 More information www.acquabenecomune.org
 More information: http://apemsanosevende.
 More information: http://aguasnosevende.
blogspot.be/ Background information in Englishbit.ly/1eRQC6A French bit.ly/1l3D5jO and Italian bit.ly/1cZFR6G
 More information: http://sostetonero.blogspot.
 Website of the European Citizen’s Initiative on the Right to Waterhttp://www.right2water.eu/
Alliance Calls for Halt to GM Crops in Spain: GM contamination threatens non-GM farming in Europe
Immediate Release From Food & Water Europe
Brussels and Madrid – While European decision makers argue over approving new genetically modified (GM) crops, a Spanish alliance of farmers and environmentalists lead by Food & Water Europe demanded radical change in the European Union’s GM cultivation policy. The alliance says the results of a survey of organic farmers in the U.S. shows widespread GM contamination, proving that GM “coexistence” has failed and that the resulting costs and extra work are carried by non-GM farmers.  This is a clear warning for Spain, the only EU country growing GM crops on a large scale and where there are likely to be more GM crops soon if approvals in the pipeline for new GM maize varieties come through.
“The situation in the U.S. should be a clear warning for Spain and the rest of the EU not to make the same mistakes,” said David Sánchez, campaign officer at Food & Water Europe. “So-called ‘coexistence’ as promoted by the GM industry is simply impossible, as farmers in both the U.S. and Spain already know.”
The survey, published first in the U.S. by Food & Water Watch and the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing  and released today in Europe, documents the added burden organic and non-GM farmers face, including the increased costs of trying to prevent contamination, extra labour, longer hours and financial insecurity due to economic losses when contamination occurs. The survey shows:
- Economic costs of preventive measures to avoid GMOs can reach more than €6,119 (US$8500) per year, including buffer zones, delaying planting and testing among others.
- One out of three responding farmers have dealt with GMO contamination in their farm. They reported a median cost of €3,240 (US$4500). Of those contaminated farmers, over half have had crops rejected by their buyers.
- Other consequences include abandoning crops with GM varieties approved or strained relations between neighbours.
“Farmers in Spain are already facing the same insecurity and lack of legal protection as U.S. colleagues, even though there is only one GM crop approved in the EU. Preventive measures and their costs should not be carried by the farmers that chose not to grow GMOs,” said Andoni García, member of the board of the Spanish Coordination of Farmers (COAG).
The Spanish organic cattle industry is also seriously affected by GM contamination. Forced to import maize from other countries that do not grow GM crops, farmers need to pay extra costs to guarantee GM-free feed.
Considering the situation in the U.S., the COAG, Ecologistas en Acción, Friends of the Earth Spain and Food & Water Europe demand European authorities, including the Spanish Government, reverse current GMO crop policy.
“Organic farming is a growing sector that creates employment and puts new energies in rural areas. Protecting its development means we urgently need to stop growing GM crops in Spain. We cannot be the back door for GM crops into Europe any longer,” adds Blanca G. Ruibal, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Spain.
For more information:
- David Sánchez, Campaign Officer, Food & Water Europe +32 485842604
- Andoni García Arriola, member of the board of COAG, +34 636 451 569
- Blanca G. Ruibal, Food Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Spain, +34 691471389
- Gabriela Vázquez, speakperson, Ecologistas en Acción, +34 635 170495
 The report “Organic Farmers Pay the Price for GMO Contamination “ (“Los agricultores ecológicos pagan el precio de la contaminación por transgénicos”) can be downloaded in Spanish and English.
 Food & Water Europe is the European program of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization based in the United States that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control. http://www.foodandwaterwatch.
Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing is a cooperative incorporated in the State of Minnesota as a marketing-agency-in-common to support organic producer and their group marketing efforts through cooperatives and farmer association. Current efforts include organic grain, livestock and dairy. Member associations/cooperatives have organic producer members in 18 states from Montana to Texas to Tennessee to Ohio and Michigan and all states in between. www.ofarm.coop
 Questionnaire about the socio-economic implications of the placing on the market of GMOs for cultivation. A diagnosis by Spanish organizations: COAG, Ecologistas en Acción, Friends of the Earth Spain, Greenpeace and CECU