Berlin Water back in Public Hands – Bye, bye Veolia!
After the long struggle of Berliners there came finally the time to end the failed PPP model (Public-Private Sector Partnership), a form proposed by the government for the Greek water services as well, which skyrocketed water prices, as dictated by the secret contracts of the multinationals for a large profit guarantee. At last, Berliners take back control of city water but with a heavy economic price to pay, a lesson for those who believe that the regaining of services after privatization is a simple case of “political will”.
The deal between the Berlin Government and Veolia seems to be finally negotiated:
For 590 M€ (+54 Mio. extras)Berlin will buy back the 24,9% shares of the Berlin Water Company (BWB),which have been in hands of Veolia since 1999. After RWE had sold its shares (24,9%) for 658 Mio.€ in 2012 the biggest municipal PPP-Project in Germany has come to an end.
This is a big success for the 666000 Berlin citizens who opened the way to this remunicipalisation by a referendum in 2011, the first one ever won in Berlin.
“We are happy and proud that we managed to return round Berlin Water into public hands but we are also criticizing the far too high price”, says Gerlinde Schermer, who voted as member of parliament against this bad deal in 1999. “We know that this will make it very difficult to lower the high water price for the next 30 years”.
The Berlin Water Table, struggling for a democratic and participative water management since 2006, knows very well, that after this success the hard work will go on. “Now we must control and push forward our politicians”, says Dorothea Haerlin, founding member of the Berlin Water Table. “We must prevent them from following the long practiced profit driven logic of water management.” That’s why the Berlin Water Table has already published a draft of a “Berlin Water Charta” and they are starting a city wide debate on how to found a “Berlin Water Council” as a participative instrument of direct democracy on the way to a democratic, transparent, ecological and social water management in Berlin.
Here the first comment of Laura Valentukeviciute from GiB (Commons in Citizen’s Hands): “This can become a big step forward towards another management of our commons, no longer based on the logic of profit but on costs and public welfare”.
The final decision of this deal still has to pass the Berlin Parliament but nobody doubts that the coalition of SPD and CDU will agree.