The text, approved on the 8th September 2015, makes specific mention of GWOPA and WOPs, stating that, “EU development projects should integrate universal access to water and sanitation via the promotion of public-public and public-private partnerships based on solidarity” paragraph 77.
The adoption comes following a report by Irish MEP, Lynn Boylan, who worked with the Right2Water initiative and other stakeholders, including members of GWOPA such as the Transnational Institute and Aqua Publica Europea, in favour of this Europe-wide action.
Recomendations from the report called for three action lines, which were largely reflected in the final text (below):
- all EU inhabitants should enjoy the right to water and sanitation
- water supply and water management should be excluded from liberalisation
- the EU should increase its efforts to achieve universal access to water and sanitation through Public-public partnerships.
The timing of this adoption is furthermore pertinant for GWOPA as the resoluton comes just a few days prior to the 3rd Global WOPs Congress. During the Congress one of the recurring messages from participants, largely public operators, was the need to overcome national legislative barriers that often prevent them from participating in development cooperation actions, such as WOPs, because it does not fall under their mandate. Speaking on the adoption of this text and in response to the messages heard during the Congress, Faraj El-Awar, Head of Secretariat for GWOPA, acknowledged this as an, “encouraging sign from the European Parliament on the importance of ensuring access for all and of the critical role that operators can play through peer support and capacity development initiatives." On behalf of the Global WOPs Alliance, he said he looked forward to, “working closely with European partners to build on existing projects and implement new partnerships within this new framework.”
In line with the Human Right to Water and Sanitation declared in 2010 by the UN, the text defines access to water and sanitation as encompassing, “the dimensions of availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability and quality”. Durnig the Global WOPs Congress, Leo Heller, Special Rapporteur for the UN on the Right to Water and Sanitation, who highlighted that, "water is among the keys to achieving sustainable development" and has a catalytic role on the other goals.
The text welcomes the 1% charge used to fund water and sanitation cooperation projects as an initiative to be promoted and up-scaled across Europe. Currently in place in France and a few other European countries, this structure allows 1% of bill revenue to be used to promote decentralized cooperation projects in the water and sanitation sector. A number of public utilities, such as the Sanitation operator for Paris, SIAAP, are able to engage in WOPs in part due to this 1%. See case WOP study SIAAP – ONEE attached.
It is hoped that by introducing the legislative measures required to implement the recommendations, more European water utilities will be able to participate in WOPs to support public operators in developing countries.