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Commentary on the European Commission’s “Study on Water Services in Selected Member States”

Commentary on the European Commission’s “Study on Water Services in Selected Member States”

Lobina, Emanuele ORCID: 0000-0003-4774-0308 (2018) Commentary on the European Commission’s “Study on Water Services in Selected Member States”. Technical Report. European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU),

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19211 LOBINA European_Commission’s_Study_on_Water_Services_2018.pdf - Published Version

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In July 2015, the consultancy Ramboll carried out a “Study on water services in selected Member States” for the European Commission. The Study addresses the relative performance of public and private operations and the relative impact of public procurement rules in the water sector, by reviewing the literature on seven EU Member States (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Hungary, and Sweden) and interviewing selected stakeholders from these countries. This Commentary, commissioned by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), considers the limitations of the Study and identifies a number of policy implications broadly falling under three main headings: 1) the transaction costs of water liberalisation and privatisation represent a social deadweight loss; 2) the social costs of water liberalisation and privatisation are underestimated and must be tackled; and, 3) what people want is public water and the human right to water - not liberalisation, privatisation or technocratic regulation. The Commentary concludes that it is time for the European Commission to abandon its obsession with water liberalisation, privatisation and technocratic regulation and to create instead an institutional environment where the human right to water can prosper. Such an institutional environment could be created by adopting legislation that promotes meaningful public participation in decision making on water service provision, combats excessive costs to water users and fosters intra-European Public-Public Partnerships (PUPs) for capacity development in the water sector, in addition to international, North-South and South-South PUPs.

Item Type: Monograph (Technical Report)
Additional Information: A PSIRU Report commissioned by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU). Thanks go to Jan Willem Goudriaan, David Hall, Christa Hecht, and Vera Weghmann for helpful comments and suggestions. All errors remain the responsibility of the author. The financial support of the Independent Social Research Foundation is also gratefully acknowledged (
Uncontrolled Keywords: Water services, European Union, European Commission, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary, human right to water, competition, ownership, efficiency, transaction costs, profit maximisation, social deadweight loss, social cost, water poverty, financial affordability, costs to users, staff reductions, public sector, private sector, public procurement, price, service quality, ownership, institutions, regulatory framework, consumer benefit, award procedures, internal market, EU competition law, Concessions directive, Recast drinking water directive, European Parliament, European Citizens Initiative, European pillar of social rights, corruption, irregularities, profit maximisation, liberalisation, privatisation, technocratic regulation, benchmarking, transparency, public participation, accountability, access to information, access to essential services, social opportunity costs, social mobilisation, social resistance to privatisation, remunicipalisation, Public-Public-Partnerships, capacity development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2019 17:00

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