Skip to main content

Battle to oppose water privatization returns Greece

Originally published: Occupy by Maria Paradia 
In late September 2016, the Syriza administration laid the groundwork to begin Greece’s water privatization, achieving a majority of 152 parliamentary votes and enacting series of new measures to transfer the state-run water companies of Athens (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki (EYATH) into a privatization superfund.
The duration of the government’s participation in the Superfund was set at 99 years, with lenders promising the Greek government a bailout of barely 2.8 billion euros – far lower than the projected 50 billion euros estimated earlier in the year. While Greece was forced to privatize its water sources, however, other countries like Germany were undergoing the opposite: a phase of de-privatization.
In Berlin, after 12 years of poor management and exorbitant price hikes, the local government several years ago reclaimed its water resources. This turn of events caused a series of similar de-privatization initiatives across the country, revealing that the projected economic outcomes via privatization weren’t viable in the long term. In fact, the re-established state-run services were proven to be far more efficient, better organized and capable of providing higher-quality services than their privatized counterparts.
European water service companies have had a long history of corruption, made all the more pronounced due to the backing and participation of cartels across the E.U. According to research by the IMF and World Bank, such privatization attempts have always led to worse working conditions, lower water quality and arbitrary overcharging placed on that essential resource, all with the goal of reducing costs for companies.
Projected conclusions about the Greek water privatization scheme are predictably dire: poverty-stricken households will be hardest hit by the price hikes, while a lack of financial motives could lead private companies to cut back costs on maintaining water supply and sanitation in Athens and Thessaloniki, the country’s largest cities. All this will be further compounded by the lack of a concrete regulatory framework in Greece, which has failed to control employers’ abuse of power over the years.
Yet despite the overwhelming evidence, the E.U’s institutions have remained steadfast in their attempt to push for further Greek privatization, reflecting a misguided economic policy sorely in need of reconsideration. To many Greeks, it is further proof of the distancing that has been taking place between Greece and the E.U since the early years of the economic crisis.Protest of water privatization
Since 2010, the administrative and legislative bodies on the continent have held to their guns, in some cases even ignoring the outcry of the overwhelming majority as they pushed ahead a largely unworkable agenda. In 2012 alone, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development invested almost 500 million euros to encourage the first wave of public sector privatization in some of the Union’s more vulnerable countries.
Now, 2017 will mark the third year since more than 2 million citizens petitioned via the European Citizen’s Initiative Platform to support the Human Right To Water. To support this effort, citizen-led activist groups earlier this year established the Right2Water campaign. According to its mission statement, the purpose is to ensure that E.U. legislation recognizes the human right to water and sanitation and enforces quality standards in accordance with UN Article 31.
Despite the overwhelming public support for this initiative, those voices have mostly been ignored – providing further evidence that the E.U. appears more interested in ensuring the survival of its economic policies than the well-being of its citizens. (In Portugal, where the first wave of water privatizations took place, end-user costs quadrupled within a few years after implementation.)
According to Christa Hecht, Managing Director for the Allianz der öffentlichen Wasserwirtschaft (AeoW), which represents the re-municipalized water services in Germany: “Pricing [water] can’t be left to profit-seeking boardroom managers…it is a vital public asset and the Greeks are right to want to keep it that way.”
During the recent 20th Water Conference, members of the German trade union Ver.di mirrored the opinions of the AeoW by supporting Greek water activists in their effort to maintain control of their own publicly available resources. Along with the European Public Service Union (EPSU), they are now attempting to create a pressure group that will force the E.U. to establish a more sustainable water policy.
The battle for the right to water, in Greece and elsewhere, isn’t stopping anytime soon. But a resolution may require a more essential shift in the way the European Union does business: not simply addressing the economic situation of the E.U. itself, but reevaluating its capacity to truly provide for its people.

Popular posts from this blog

Plastic Pollutes Every Waterway, Sea and Ocean In The World

By Theodora Filis

When we damage our water systems, we're not only putting marine life at risk, we're also putting human life and resources in peril.

Our planet currently has six plastic islands made of trapped garbage. The damage to sea life by these plastic death traps can only be imagined, but scientists are now investigating the long-term impacts of toxic pollutants absorbed, transported, and consumed by fish and other marine life, including the potential effects on human health. 

Plastic that now pollutes our oceans and waterways is having
a severe impact on our environment and our economy. 
Seabirds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life are eating
marine plastic pollution and dying from choking, intestinal
blockage and starvation. 

Scientists previously thought that only actual plastic floating in the ocean could harm marine animals. But, new research proves there are additional unseen dangers being created by the plastic we discard daily. Initially it was thought that larg…

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later – House Judiciary Committee Decides The Fate Of Online Piracy

By Theodora Filis

The US House Judiciary Committee is now discussing an anti-online piracy bill that will allow independent parties to cut off websites accused of posting copyrighted material. Called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the bill is designed to get around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Committee Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Currently, under the DMCA, a copyright holder can request a website remove material he or she owns. If the website refuses, the matter can go to court.
Under SOPA, which will go before the House Judiciary Committee on November 16, 2011:
      o Search engines can be required to block accused websites from results.

      o Internet service providers can be required to block accused websites from their customers.

      o Payment companies don't need a request from a copyright holder to block a website. Instead, they can do so on their own if they suspect a website may be posting copyrighted work without permission.

SOPA allows the third pa…

Patty Ameno's “Mad, Junkyard Dog Mentality” Is Barking Up The Right Tree and Getting Results

By Theodora Filis
Patty Ameno has been a steadfast and solitary solider, for over 25 years, in the battle to set to rights the horrific, self fulfilling acts of the Nuclear Industry. Ameno is well known for her environmental activism and for spearheading a 14-year lawsuit with Attorney Fred Baron, for wrongful death, personal injury and property damage from the operations of two former nuclear fuel plants in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. The owners of the plants, Babcock & Wilcox and the Atlantic Richfield Co. settled with over 300 plaintiffs for more than $80 million in 2009. Ameno has received honors and recognition from the State of Pennsylvania, US Senate, and The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP).

Most recently, Patty was the focus of an article written by John Emshwiller, Wall Street Journal, titled: Waste Land: One Town's Atomic Legacy: A $500 Million Cleanup:

Patty Ameno's One-Woman Nuclear Crusade“She has been praised as a community protector and criticized …