Public Water Management Services Need "Committed Citizens"
BERLIN, Mar. 14, 2012 (IPS) - The trend of privatisation and commercialisation of water services, which set in in the 1980s and continued throughout the 1990s, has come to a halt due to the process’ own failures, and has given rise to a return of those services into efficient public management, according to a new book.
Released on Mar. 11, "Remunicipalisation: Putting water back in public hands" was authored by several activists at the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute (TNI) and the watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) in cooperation with several non- governmental organisations.
However, in an interview with IPS, the authors of the book warned that the European Union’s management of the present sovereign debt crisis in several member states is putting pressure upon certain governments to again privatise their water services.
"The world economic crisis that broke out in 2007 has somehow changed the picture of remunicipalisation, because of the financial sector bail-out, which has triggered the sovereign debt crisis in Europe," Martin Pigeon, expert for public services at CEO, told IPS.
"Now EU institutions, which seem unable, or unwilling, to understand the specificities of the water sector, are pushing very strongly the governments in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy to re-privatise their municipal water systems," Pigeon added.
This policy is a clone of the outdated and delegitimised structural adjustment policies of the 1980s and 1990s, he said.
For this and other reasons, Pigeon said that the remunicipalisation trend still needs "committed and vigilant citizens" participating in the process to master the multiple challenges the public water management sector is facing now.
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