|Painting of Thessaloniki by Aafke Steenhuis|
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 By Satoko Kishimoto and Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory | News Analysis
The requirement to sell off €50 billion in public assets is one of the most controversial aspects of the 'agreement' that Eurozone countries and the Troika forced on the Greek government during mid-July's "night of shame".
Details of exactly what Greece is required to privatise have now emerged with the leaking of the "Memorandum of Understanding for a three-year ESM programme" prepared by the Troika's International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank.  The leaked document lists 23 state assets, ranging from airports to service utilities, and presents precise steps and timelines for privatisation.
It comes as a shock that this list includes two large public water companies: Athens Water Supply & Sewerage S.A (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage S.A. (EYATH), which provide drinking water for the country's two biggest cities. The Troika had insisted on water privatisation in an earlier memorandum, but strong public opposition had blocked this proposal.
In June 2014 the Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, ruled that transferring a controlling stake in Athens' public water utility EYDAP to private hands was unconstitutional because of the responsibility of the state to protect citizens' fundamental right to health.  The new Memorandum foresees the sale of 11% of EYDAP shares, which seems minimal at face value, but given that 38.7% of EYDAP's shares are already owned by private companies and individuals, it would leave 49.7% of the utility in private hands.
As for Thessaloniki, a non-binding referendum was held in May 2014, resulting in a 98% vote against water privatisation. This citizen-led initiative mobilised 218,002 voters and sent a crystal clear message rejecting the planned sale of 51% of EYATH shares to private investors (French water multinational Suez and Israel's state-owned Merokot had shown interest). The leaked Memorandum now orders the liquidation of 23% of state-owned shares; knowing that another 26% are already in private hands, this would make the company 49% private.
- to read further click HERE