Water and Sewerage Anti-Privatization movement in Thessaloniki, Greece


Water and sewerage is under public management in Greece. In 2011 the government included Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage SA (EYATH) in the list of state owned enterprises that would be privatized under the pretext of financial crisis and austerity measures (imposed by the Troika’s demands).

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Basic Data
NameWater and Sewerage Anti-Privatization movement in Thessaloniki, Greece
ProvinceCentral Macedonia
SiteThessaloniki metropolitan area
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWater provision: 250,000 m3 daily average production; 2,200 km distribution network

Sewerage: 175,000 m3 daily average wastewater treatment; 1,700 km sewage network [1]

EYATH’s shareholders:

Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) 74.02%; Legal Entities 16.52%; Natural Persons 8.32%; Shared tranche 1.14% [12].

EYATH SA gross profit for the period 2007-2011: 143.000.000 euro [13].
Project Area (in hectares)Water provision: 12,000; sewerage: 63,700 [1]
Level of Investment (in USD)101,104,052 (EYATH’s shares’ selling price)
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population~950,000
Start Date10/08/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesAKTOR A.T.E. (AKTOR) from Greece - prospective purchaser
Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage SA (EYATH SA) from Greece
SUEZ Environment SAS (SUEZ ) from France - Prospective purchaser
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Finance; Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund; Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; Region of Central Macedonia; Municipalities of: Thessaloniki, Ampelokipi-Menemeni, Kalamarias, Neapolis-Sykeon, Kordelio-Evosmos, Pavlos Melas, Thermis, Delta, Halkidonas, Oraiokastro
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Central Bank (ECB)
International Monetary Fund (FMI)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersOver 130 civil society organisations, trade unions and individuals from Greece and Europe with 50 Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the bidders of EYATH, demanding them to withdraw their bid (the full list: http://www.savegreekwater.org/?p=2651) Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’ Acqua (http://www.acquabenecomune.org/) European Federation of Public Service Unions – EPSU (http://www.epsu.org/) German Association of public water operators, www.aoew.de European Water Forum (http://europeanwater.org/) Berliner Wasserrat, http://www.berliner-wasserrat.com/ European Water Movement (http://europeanwater.org)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationAppeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Referendum other local consultations
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
OtherHealth impacts related to the quality of water, as the international experience has shown that private water companies neglect quality issues in their effort to maximize their profits
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
OtherPotential Increase of water prices
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesA Union of Non-Profit Water Cooperatives of the Municipalities of the Thessaloniki area, under the name “Citizens’ Union for Water”, was created. The Union comprises 16 primary municipal cooperatives corresponding to the municipal communities of the Municipality of Thessaloniki and to other Municipalities in the wider metropolitan area of Thessaloniki, as well as one solidarity cooperative for people that do not live in the metropolitan area of Thessaloniki [14]. Citizens can apply for being members of a cooperative. The members of the cooperatives can get microloans or funding from Social Responsibility Investors, in order to ensure that all citizens are able to participate in a cooperative, regardless of their financial situation. The main philosophy of the Union is to have a democratic, nonprofit water management, ensuring citizens active participation and a good quality of water at a low price [15].

There were some objections to this process, as the state used to have the majority of the shares; the main argument was that the citizens will buy something that already belongs to them and that this was a form of privatization.

Τhe Union submitted an Expression of Interest for the acquisition of 51% of EYATH [4]. In June 2013, TAIPED excluded the Union from the second phase of the process, without publicizing the reasons. [5]
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The privatization process for both water companies (Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage SA (EYATH SA) and Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company (EYDAP S.A.)) has been suspended. The Greek government has the obligation to proceed to the privatization of several public companies. This obligation derived from the agreements between the Greek governments and Troika (EU, IMF and ECB).

The privatization process of water companies of the two bigger metropolitan areas of Greece faces great public opposition. Especially in Thessaloniki, a mass movement was established, gaining support from all over Europe and networking in European and international level. At the same time, municipalities in both areas expressed their opposition to the planned privatization.

The public opposition, expressed in the result of the referendum organized in Thessaloniki, along with the Council of State decision that blocked EYDAP’s privatization process, forced the Greek government to suspend the privatization process. Most recently the Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks said that the new plan is the buyout of EYATH by EYDAP.

But still nothing is clear. It’s sure that there is a first victory, but the government hasn’t announced yet the definite stopping of the water companies’ privatization process.
Sources and Materials

Law 2937/2001, Regulations on EYATH SA
[click to view]


[1] EYATH SA, 2012, Analysts’ Presentation
[click to view]

[2] Law 2937/2001, Regulations on EYATH SA
[click to view]

[3] EYATH Fixed Assets, 2014
[click to view]

[4] Initiative 136, 2013, Press Release: The citizens' bid to control Thessaloniki's water!
[click to view]

[5] Initiative 136, 2014, Press Release: The Court condemns TAIPED’s decision
[click to view]

[6] Aftodioikisi, 2014, Council of State: EYDAP’s privatization is unconstitutional
[click to view]

[8] Ta Nea, 2014, Outside the electoral departments will be conduced the referendum for the water in Thessaloniki/
[click to view]

[9] SAVE GREEK WATER, 2014, Massive participation in Thessaloniki water referendum
[click to view]

[10] Apostolakis Sakis, 2014, Municipalities of Thessaloniki get back the networks from EYATH, Newspaper Eleftherotypia, 4 June 2014
[click to view]

[11] Archontopoulos G., 2014, They will find us constantly before them!, Oikotrives Magazine, 13 – October 2014
[click to view]

[12] EYATH, Shareholder composition, 2012
[click to view]

[13] S.O.S.te to nero, 2013, Press Release
[click to view]

[14] Initiative 136, 2013, The list of primary municipal cooperatives
[click to view]

[15] Initiative 136, 2013, Press Release: The citizens' bid to control Thessaloniki's water! "Citizens' Union for Water"
[click to view]

[7] S.O.S.te to nero, 2013, Press Realease on the Regional Association of Municipalities of Central Macedonia decision for the referendum on the privatization of water in Thessaloniki
[click to view]

[16] K.M., 2014, TAIPED insists in the "exploitation" of EYATH, 25/10/2014
[click to view]


Nick Meynen, 2014, This is what 98% of Thessaloniki wants
[click to view]

Olivier Petitjean, 2014, Forced Privatizations in Greece: Suez Eyes Taking Over the Water Services of Athens and Thessaloniki
[click to view]

Hilary Wainwright, 2013, Resist and transform: the struggle for water in Greece
[click to view]

Lavinia Steinfort, 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece: Struggling against water privatization in times of crisis
[click to view]

Mary Ann Manahan, 2012, Addressing the Modern Greek Tragedy
[click to view]

Media Links

Practicing democracy, 2014
[click to view]

Savegreekwater, 2014, Something’s up with water, Water polo
[click to view]

Nelly Psarrou, 2014, Water drops, A documentary on water adventures in Greece (Thessaloniki, Apopigadi, Eastern Chalkidiki, Asopos river and Volos),
[click to view]

Savegreekwater, 2014, Something’s up with water, Shower
[click to view]

Savegreekwater, 2014, Something’s up with water, Coin machine
[click to view]

Savegreekwater, 2014, Something’s up with water, Watering
[click to view]

Savegreekwater, 2014, Something’s up with water, Beach bar
[click to view]

Other Documents

Referendum Poster
[click to view]

Referendum in Thessaloniki, same day with Municipal Elections (18 May 2014)
[click to view]

Manifestation in Thessaloniki (29 April 2013)
[click to view]

Manifestation in the Municipality of Neapoli-Sykies (12 April 2014)
[click to view]

Naked biketour in Thessaloniki (10 June 2013)
[click to view]

Referendum in Thessaloniki, same day with Municipal Elections (18 May 2014)
[click to view]

Referendum in Thessaloniki, same day with Municipal Elections (18 May 2014)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorErmioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update09/07/2015