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UPDATE: Referendum on water privatization in Italy this spring

The European Public Services Union reports that, “The campaign (that began in April) to hold a referendum (in Italy) against a recent law privatizing water services has drawn over 1.4 million signatures… (In mid-January) the Italian Supreme Court validated two referendas on (water). This means that the whole country (of 50 million people) will be voting on the issue of public water systems privatisation soon (likely this spring). More precisely, the two validated referendas ask for the cancellation of two legislative pieces, one is an article in a 2008 law on the privatisation of public services with an economic value, and the other calls for the cancellation of an article in the Environment code that forces water tariffs to be calculated according to capital costs (full cost recovery).”

“The law that now will be under referendum wanted water supply to be managed exclusively by private companies or by mixed public-private enterprises where the private investor holds at least 40 per cent. In addition local authorities with a stake in utilities listed on the stock exchange are asked to reduce their shareholding gradually to a maximum of 30 per cent by the end of 2015. …Critics argue that water is a common good and a universal right and that as such it cannot be subject to the laws of the free market.”

The current prime minister of Italy is the controversial billionaire Silvio Berlusconi. At the July 28 vote at the United Nations, Italy voted in favour of the recognition of water and sanitation as human rights.

“The campaign (for a referendum) was organised by the Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua, a network of national associations and local committees…” For more on this (in Italian), go to The Council of Canadians’ Blue Planet Project has been following this campaign. Maude Barlow has been invited to speak at a conference on this issue in March (though it still needs to be determined if her schedule would permit her to go). A major rally is also being planned for March 19.