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Right to water: First EP hearing for a Citizens’ Initiative

Feb 17, 2014 | News

(17 February 2014) – Should access to good-quality water be a basic right? The “water is a human right” campaign seeks to secure universal access to clean water and sanitation and opposes the liberalisation of water services. The people behind the campaign will be taking part today in the Parliament’s first official hearing for the European Citizens’ Initiative, which enables people to ask for new EU legislation.

The “water is a human right” campaign collected nearly two million signatures in their quest to get all EU countries to provide their people with sufficient and clean drinking water and sanitation. The organisers of the initiative believe that these services should not be subject to internal market rules.

The Citizens’ Initiative was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and gives EU inhabitants who have the right to vote in European Parliament elections the opportunity to have their say on the EU’s agenda. To be considered, an initiative must be backed by at least one million EU citizens, from at least seven of the 28 member states within 12 months of the registration date. It must also fall within the European Commission’s remit.

The hearing in the Parliament is organised by the environment committee, together with the petitions, internal market and development committees. The organisers of the initiative will present their objectives to MEPs and Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the European Commission.

The petitions committee discussed on 10 February the preliminary findings of a study on citizens’ initiatives. Although they were seen as promising, members also acknowledged there was still room for further improvement. For example, they criticised that currently every member states requires different data from people who want to sign an initiative. One suggestion was to set up an interactive website where people can exchange ideas for possible citizens’ initiatives and find counterparts in other EU countries to start one.

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