Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Remunicipalisation - Putting water back into public hands

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Cities worldwide are taking back control of their collective water systems. The outcome of two years of research, this new book by Corporate Europe Observatory, Transnational Institute and the Municipal Services Project, the first ever published on the issue, examines the new trend for water ‘remunicipalisation’, analysing the causes of this new phenomenon and assessing its outcomes from a progressive public water management perspective. Case studies analyse the transition from private to public water provision in Paris, Dar es Salaam, Buenos Aires and Hamilton, and look at a national-level experiment in Malaysia. Showing the benefits and challenges of putting these systems back into municipal ownership, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in collective water management today.

Cities worldwide are experiencing the failures of water privatisation. Unequal access, broken promises, environmental hazards and scandalous profit margins are prompting municipalities to take back control of this essential service. This new book from Corporate Europe Observatory, Transnational Institute and the Municipal Services Project examines this growing trend for water ‘remunicipalisation’.

Case studies analyse the transition from private to public water provision in Paris, Dar es Salaam, Buenos Aires and Hamilton, and look at a national-level experiment in Malaysia.

The journey toward better public water illustrates the benefits and challenges of municipal ownership, but the book also highlights the stranglehold of international financial institutions and the legacies of corporate control, putting water in the context of the larger debate about ‘alternatives to privatisation’ and drawing lessons from these experiences for future action in favour of public services. It is a must-read for policy makers and activists looking for concrete ways to democratise water services.

"Cities have been remunicipalising water for years, but finally we have a book that gives us a global perspective on this trend. It offers rich evidence of how public service providers outperform private water companies while at the same time pointing to the challenges that managers, policy makers and activists face in making water public again."  Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians

Cities worldwide are experiencing the failures of water privatisation. Unequal access, broken promises, environmental hazards and scandalous profit margins are prompting municipalities to take back control of this essential service. This new book from Corporate Europe Observatory, Transnational Institute and the Municipal Services Project examines this growing trend for water ‘remunicipalisation’.Case studies analyse the transition from private to public water provision in Paris, Dar es Salaam, Buenos Aires and Hamilton, and look at a national-level experiment in Malaysia.The journey toward better public water illustrates the benefits and challenges of municipal ownership, but the book also highlights the stranglehold of international financial institutions and the legacies of corporate control, putting water in the context of the larger debate about ‘alternatives to privatisation’ and drawing lessons from these experiences for future action in favour of public services. It is a must-read for policy makers and activists looking for concrete ways to democratise water services."Cities have been remunicipalising water for years, but finally we have a book that gives us a global perspective on this trend. It offers rich evidence of how public service providers outperform private water companies while at the same time pointing to the challenges that managers, policy makers and activists face in making water public again."  Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
 

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The concessions directive, which has the stated object of opening markets and eliminating “discrepancies among national regimes”, would end the exemption that has so far existed for drinking water supply and for the first time bring it under the rules of the EU’s single market.

Be it out of sheer ignorance or because it is serving narrow corporate interests, or both, the European Commission is pushing for water supply privatisation in Europe precisely when the business model that this policy wants to support is dying.
The European Commission is deliberately promoting privatization of water services as one of the conditions being imposed as part of bailouts, it has acknowledged in a letter to civil society groups.[1] EU Commissioner Olli Rehn's directorate was responding to questions posed in an open letter concerning the European Commission’s role in imposing privatisation through the Troika in Greece, Portugal and other countries.[2] The civil society groups have today written to Commissioner Rehn to demand that he “refrains from any further pressure to impose water privatisation conditionalities”
There are daily meetings between the financial lobby and the Commission, and they’re mainly about issues crucial to society at large. Despite this, the public is only able to access piecemeal information on what is discussed, and even then with unacceptable delays. Given the huge impact the financial sector has had on society, keeping this lobbying behind closed doors is deeply problematic. Transparency reform is needed.
Multi-sectoral civil society coalition calls for greater protections for consumers, journalists, whistleblowers, researchers and workers.
NGOs have today responded to the Commission's reply to the European Ombudsman's recommendations on how to better handle revolving door cases within the Commission. In particular, they echo the demand for more transparency.
The European Commission directorate-general at the heart of the 'cash for influence' claims by UK MP Jack Straw (TAXUD - taxation and customs union), has now released to Corporate Europe Observatory information showing its lobby contacts in 2013 with the now disgraced ex-minister. The documents illustrate how Straw tried to use his influential name and impressive CV to help open lobby doors. They also expose the loopholes in EU lobby rules.

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