Water – Public good or trade commodity?
Public water utilities in Europe have for decades reliably supplied safe drinking water to consumers and provided for the disposal of wastewater. But things are changing. Municipal budget constraints, the pressure exerted by multinational corporations on governments to allow them to enter the water business, and neoliberal political initiatives at national and EU levels encouraging the privatisation of water services, are turning water management into a business.
It is argued here that an overall shift to more commercial and costefficient policies will potentially undermine the current water service standards, especially in the long-term perspective. Respective developments are reported from countries with recently privatised water sectors.