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Private Water and EU Citizenship

by afew Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 04:37:06 AM EST

[Hoist from today's Newsroom]

Water rights e-petition first to get 1 million signatures | EurActiv

Organisers of a European Citizensí Initiative that seeks to halt sales of public water utilities say they have gathered one million signatures from across Europe, becoming the first such group to do so since the grass-roots efforts were launched last spring.

The Water is a Human Right initiative calls for water supply and management to be exempt from European Commission liberalisation policies on the grounds that water is a public good.

The initiative also wants EU states to enact laws ensuring that everyone has a right to safe water and sanitation, and that the EU increase it development aid efforts to achieve universal water access and sanitation.

The initiative process, or ECI, was launched in 2012 under a provision of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty to encourage citizen action. ECI organisers are required to have one million signatures collected from at least seven EU states before they can submit the proposals to the European Commission for consideration as draft laws.

A Hoist from last week pointed to the directive before the European Parliament that would force municipalities to put water supply out to tender. Discussion in that thread brings up the above ECI. It's possible that the organisation of the ECI has been less efficient in some countries, and it's true that the situation with regard to privatisation of the water supply differs from country to country. But go sign the petition, they are aiming at 2 million signatures.

What got my hackles up was finding the conditions imposed by the EU for valid EU citizens' signatures. Read on for more...


I was told first that, to sign, I should choose my country of origin in the EU. Having done so, I was told that I could only sign if I was a permanent resident in that country. So I needed to choose my EU country of residence...

OK, I switch countries. And there I find that I must give a valid reference to an ID document issued by the country I reside in. The list of valid ID docs is of the kind that nationals are likely to have -- but that a resident may not necessarily have. Especially since it has been (for practically a decade) legally possible to reside in another EU country with one's passport as ID, the residence permit being the exception rather than the rule (this has been the case in France since late 2003).

Fortunately for me, I have a French driving licence and could give the number. But I could quite easily see the possibility that an EU citizen living in a member state other than that of her/is origin would be deprived of the right to sign a European Citizens' Initiative. Hey, EU! Why are you incapable of thinking mobility?

Display:
Signed.
No "papers please" for the UK, just valid address.
Why do they need to know my date of birth?

(Typical liberal whimpyness anyway: why not aim for 10 million?)


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 04:56:30 AM EST
Number 6:
No "papers please" for the UK, just valid address.

Ah. It would be interesting to see how it works out in other countries.

But if one country can place more stringent conditions on resident non-national EU citizens, what does a European Citizens' Initiative mean?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 05:47:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a French citizen, I was asked to "provide ID" (enter the number of my national identity card or driver's licence)

The UK doesn't do national identity card, I understand. So maybe UK electronic signatures carry less weight? :)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 05:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK does however do driving license... :)

Yes, the question is why on earth a democratic right accorded to all EU citizens should be subject to different conditions in different countries.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 06:01:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But of course you can't disenfranchise people (even Poms) on the basis that they don't have a driving license.

So, yeah, the foreigner-but-not-really, EU citizen resident in another country, is perhaps disenfranchised?

But do you really mean you don't have any of the IDs permitted for France, apart from a driver's license?

(Not even a "Chamois or three-coloured hunter card"?)

The obvious piece missing from that list is "carte d'électeur", since you are entitled to register to vote.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 09:26:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Driving licence was the only one I could cite. They didn't ask for a Social Security number or tax number, for instance.

As for being disenfranchised, I was at the last EP election.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 10:18:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is that we should all be registered in a big EU database as EU citizens and have/be a number. And a plastic card with a chip, and oh biometric data while we're at it.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 09:27:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh, just have backscatter ("nude") scanners where people vote.
Anyone who refuses is an enemy of democracy.


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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 05:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is more stringent in one sense, but if you are a homeless expat you can probably sign in Sweden (as at some point you will have receieved a number) but not in UK.

My guess is that for practical purposes the signatures are checked against the chosen states census office so it collects whatever that census office has declared as necessary information. At present I don't even know if the census offices exchange information (the Nordic ones does but that is pre-existing cooperation), so if you for legal purposes are a resident of two or more states you can probably sign for each of those residentships.

In the end I guess we can't have a true European Citizens' Initiative with equality until we have a European Citizenship complete with an EU census.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 06:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The link to the petition points back here.

Correct link:
Statement of support form - Online Collection System

Support the proposed European Citizens' Initiative:
Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity! Statement of support form

For Sweden, you can choose to sign your personal number in passport or id (not drivers license). However, they are the same and you don't need a passport/id/driver's license to get one. In fact as soon as you start to have some kind of dealing with Swedish authorities (like tax authority, or a university) you will get a temporary number and soon a permanent one. All government databases and a lot of private ones uses these number's for unique identification.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 05:26:00 AM EST
Thanks, link fixed.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 10:20:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huge difference between moving to the Netherlands and then to the UK:

  • Netherlands: "You're a citizen of an EU country? There's your passport, fine. And employed in the Netherlands? Note from employer, that's great. OK, here's your SoFi number."

  • UK: "EU? Employed? Whatever. You can't have an NI number without a bank account and an address. Good luck getting either of those without an NI. Then take half a day off work to travel to a Jobcentre Plus - not an ordinary Jobcentre mind you - for an interview ..."

(Not the rules as written, I know.)

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 05:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The conditions for each member state are laid out in this PDF.

The regulations for an ECI are in this PDF. From which:

(3) They should also ensure that citizens of the Union are subject to similar conditions for supporting a citizens' initiative regardless of the Member State from which they come.

In fact, the problem for me stems from the UK's not allowing their nationals to vote in an ECI unless they are permanent residents in the country. And then from France's comical list of IDs.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 10:33:57 AM EST


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