Greek trade unions, activists fight off privatization of two biggest water supply firms

Greek trade unions activists fight off privatization of two biggest water supply firms

Photo: iStock


August 4, 2023






August 4, 2023





After a struggle against a privatization plan that lasted more than a decade, Greece brought Athens Water Supply and Sewage Co. (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki Water Supply and Sewage Co. (EYATH) back under direct state control.

In line with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s preelection promise, the government returned its majority stakes in the water and sewage firms in the two biggest cities to direct state control. It marked a victory for trade unions and organizations fighting for the human right to water and to prevent the privatization of the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Co. (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki Water Supply and Sewage Co. (EYATH).

In the wake of the Greece’s sovereign debt crisis, the government started to plan a partial or total sale of the two utilities under a deal with international creditors. However, the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, declared in 2014 that privatization would be unconstitutional.

Government owns 61.3% of EYDAP, 74% of EYATH

In 2016, Greece founded its so-called Superfund, officially Growthfund – The National Fund of Greece, which controlled state holdings in EYDAP (61.3%) and EYATH (74%) until now. Both companies are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. Veolia has a 5.5% stake in EYATH.

The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, ruled in 2014 that privatization would be unconstitutional

Among other efforts, activists managed to organize a nonbinding referendum in Thessaloniki in May 2014. The result was 98% of votes against the privatization of EYATH.

Water will not be privatized

“Water will not be privatized, it will remain public. After all, we never had a plan to privatize it,” Superfund’s Managing Director Grigoris Dimitriadis said last month.

As for the rest of Southeastern Europe, it should be mentioned that citizens of Slovenia decided in a referendum in July 2021 to annul the Water Act that the country’s parliament adopted four months earlier. The country incorporated the right to water into its constitution in 2016.

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