Constitutional right to “liquid gold” locks out private water sector in Slovenia

An amendment to Slovenia’s constitution giving citizens access to water as a fundamental right will see water services continued to be delivered without private sector involvement...

Content Dam Ww Online Articles 2016 11 Slovenia

Content Dam Ww Online Articles 2016 11 Slovenia

LJUVLJANA, Slovenia – An amendment to Slovenia’s constitution giving citizens access to water as a fundamental right will see water services delivered without private sector involvement.

An article has been added to the European Union’s (EU) constitution citing that “everyone has the right to drinkable water”.

Out of the Slovenia’s 90-seat parliament, a total of 64 members of Slovenia’s National Assembly voted in favour of the move, with none voting against.

Text proposed by the commission stated that drinking water “should not be treated as a commodity” and that water provision should be a “non-profit public service”.

The amendment will require that water for drinking and household use is provided purely by the public sector.

As part of the Right2Water campaign in Europe initiated by the European Public Service Union (EPSU), 55,000 Slovenians signed a petition in favour of including the right to water in the constitution.

The Guardian reported that centre-left prime minister, Miro Cerar, urged lawmakers to pass the bill, stating the Slovenia should “protect water – the 21st century’s liquid gold – at the highest legal level”.

One of the most water-rich countries in Europe, groundwater supplies approximately 97% of drinking water in the country.

NGO Amnesty International said the constitutional amendment must be fully implemented to benefit the lives of Slovenia’s Roma communities denied access to water.

Estimates suggest there’s as many as 12,000 Roma people living in Slovenia, many in isolated settlements or slums in rural areas.

Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International's deputy Europe director, said: “Enshrining access to drinking water as a constitutional human right is an important legal step forward for Slovenia, but Roma communities need more than legal changes. Action is now needed to ensure the changes flow down to all those without water and sanitation.

“It is shocking that in a highly developed country like Slovenia, where almost 100% of the population have access to safe water, some Roma communities struggle to collect even small amounts of water to drink, cook and bathe themselves and their families.”

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