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Water test for European Citizens' Initiative

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Water test for European Citizens' Initiative


Coming under scrutiny in this edition of U-talk is the European Citizens' Initiative.

Our question comes from Marie in Paris who asks: “Brussels is currently examining the first European Citizens’ Initiative which has just been fully validated. This initiative, called "Right2Water" seeks universal access to drinking water. What are its chances of success?”

Antony Gravili, spokesman for the European Commission responsible for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration responded: “How do you define success for a European citizens’ initiative? Well, in legal terms it’s very simple: an initiative is successful if it collects more than a million statements of support with a minimum number from at least seven member states.

“By this definition, the Right2Water initiative is a big success already. They collected nearly 1.7 million statements of support with a minimum number from 13 member states. But your viewer asks what are the chances of success of one of the things they’re asking for (that is to say) to secure the universal access to water and sanitation.

“Obviously this is not something that can happen overnight, everybody understands there is not a magic wand that can make this happen tomorrow. This demands a lot of work, a concerted effort over a long period of time with governments around the world cooperating closely and the European Commission is already doing a lot.

“In recent years, with our support we lifted 32 million people towards access to water and nine million towards sanitation. Today the European Commission and member states combined contribute 1.5 billion euros annually towards this important goal, this makes us the biggest contributor in the world to this effort. The Right2Water organisers recognise this, they don’t ask us to start working towards this goal, they ask us to increase our efforts.

“So will this be possible? We have to wait and see. Inside the European Commission right now studies are ongoing to see how we can react to this proposal and we expect the college (of European Commissioners) to reach a decision by the 20th of March at the latest.”

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