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  • Publication
    The European Governance of the Water Sector – Contentious Policy Agendas Triggering Transnational Reactions
    (European Research Council, 2019-08-30)
    The provision of clean drinking water and sanitation are social policy fields that are under pressure from a combination of fiscal, environmental and social crises. The role of transnational politics in governing water through these crises is however often overlooked. The proposed paper addresses this gap by following the evolution of the European governance of the water sector. Relying on the analysis of legal principles and policy ideas (present in EU law, European Semester documents as well as policy publications), the paper seeks to uncover the changing balance between the decommodification of water services through the harmonization of environmental and quality standards on the one hand, and the commodification of water services through liberalizing reforms on the other. While water was eventually excluded from the “Services Directive”, the threat of liberalization played a significant role in the European right2water campaigns. Furthermore, the paper looks at alternative ways towards commodification, embedded in environmental and public procurement rules, and most importantly in the EU’s New Economic Governance framework. The paper also aims to identify the conditions under which countermovements were able to politicize these interventions and influence water policy-making at the EU level.