Barcelona: Municipal water concession to the private operator Agbar has been invalidated

(24 March 2016) Spain’s largest private operator Agbar has enjoyed a monopoly in the Metropolitan area of Barcelona by supplying 28 municipalities out of 36 including the city of Barcelona. Aigua és Vida – the Catalan platform Water for Life - revealed in 2010 that Agbar operated without concession contracts in 17 cases, and thus that there was no legal basis for these municipal concessions.

In 2012, a public-private joint venture company, 70% owned by Agbar, was created and the Metropolitan area of Barcelona (AMB) government awarded a 35-year integral water cycle concession (drinking and waste water) for the Metropolitan area of Barcelona to this joint venture without a public tender.

Aigua és Vida pointed that AMB devised this arrangement  to resolve, fraudulently, the irregular legal situation in the region. Now the Court of Justice of Catalonia has declared this contract invalid because it considers that the concession is not justified without public tender. The legal battle will continue as the Metropolitan area of Barcelona indicates it will appeal the decision.

EPSU welcomes this decision and reiterates its support for Public-Public Partnerships and remunicipalisation of water services across Europe. EPSU also demands that water supply and management of water resources are not subject to EU ‘internal market rules’ and that water services are excluded from liberalisation.

Water is a common good, not a commodity to be profited from. EPSU calls for the universal Right2Water!