Troika wants to privatise Greek water services again
The privatisation of Greek water is part new plans of the bail-out for Greece. The plans include the privatisation of the drinking water companies Athens Water Supply & Sewerage S.A (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage S.A. (EYATH). This time Troika insists on selling shares, but the majority (51%) will remain Greek. Greek citizens are protesting against the privatisation because they fear the consequences. Details of what Greece is required to privatise is part of the leaked ‘Memorandum of Understanding for a three-year ESM programme’ prepared by the Troika’s International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank.
The Troika insisted on water privatisation earlier, but strong public opposition had blocked this proposal. In June 2014 the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, ruled that transferring a controlling stake in Athens’ public water utility EYDAP to private hands was unconstitutional because of the responsibility of the state to protect citizens’ fundamental right to health. As for Thessaloniki, a non-binding referendum was held in May 2014, resulting in a 98% vote against water privatisation. In the new plans the Troika is demanding a selloff at the maximum level possible without directly conflicting with the court ruling.
Selling public water companies contradicts the trend in the rest of Europe where cities are remunicipalising water after failed privatisation experiments. For example, Berlin and Paris bought their shares back from private water companies. In Ireland people are also fighting against the semi-private water company Irish Water. The Irish showed their solidarity with the Greek people by protesting against privatisation in Dublin.
Water as a human right
This week the European Parliament has to vote on water as a human right. This topic was put on the political agenda after nearly 1.9 million Europeans signed a petition of the organisation Right2Water. In JuneEarlier the Right2Water report passed the committee stage in the European Parliament. The human right to water and sanitation only had to be approved by the European Parliament before being translated into legislation. This summer rightwing parties came up with an alternative report with different views on the privatisation agenda, troika programmes, TTIP exclusion, water cut offs and private/public partnerships. We will keep you posted.