Event Report

Event Report: Seminar on the Commons in Croatia

A seminar was organised in Croatia on the 25th of November, as part of the ‘Reclaim the Commons’ project. The event was organised by the Green European Foundation in partnership with the Institute for Political Ecology, Croatia.

Reclaim the Commons aims to revive the debate around the commons that is a fundamental part of the Green Political Ideology. Through this project, five national partners from Belgium, Poland, Croatia and France explore the transformative power of the commons for strengthening the green project, aiming to engage Greens and a wider audience around this topic.

Within the commons framework, Institute for Political Ecology decided to focus on the one hand at struggles against privatisation of commons in the form of natural resources, like water, and strategic physical infrastructure, like water pipes. On the other hand, the Institute focused on alternative examples to classic public governance of services like water services in order to transform it through participatory democracy models into commons practice.

Satoko Kishimoto from the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam stated how privatization in water services led to increase of price, underinvestment, poor maintenance of infrastructure and decrease of service quality. Satoko also presented numbers from her research which show a growing trend in remunicipalisation in EU countries or bringing back water services to public sector.

Emanuele Lobina from Public Service International Research Unit at Greenwich University in London reiterated these claims and showed how remunicipalisation is also a trend in transport, electricity and waste management services.

Andreas Karitzis from Nicos Poulantzas Institute presented devastating cases of privatised public services in Greece but also discussed the tools needed for providing an alternative, through democratization of public enterprises so they are not abused for particular interests of ruling political parties.

Enes Ćerimagić from Zelena akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia presented findings of the research “Our Water”, which analysed all the flaws of the public governance of water services in Croatia, such as corruption. Instead of privatisation, Enes proposed reform in the water sector which would ensure citizens’ checks and balances to political party control of water institutions and companies, and to ensure wide democratic definition of public interest that they should pursue.

Iva Marčetić from Right to the City presented results of the working group which aims to experiment with participatory democracy in national public companies for highways management. Iva presented the model which involves representatives of various social groups into supervision of management of the highways company.

Vedran Horvat from the Institute for Political Ecology presented ongoing research on railway services in Croatia which aims to provide paths for transformation of railways services, so that they fulfil public interests while increasing transparency and service quality, which is probably the best way to defend it from privatisation.

Various stakeholders were present at the seminar, including advocacy NGOs, trade unions, governmental bodies, academia, experts in respective fields, and so on. There was a very lively discussion on what democratisation models would be the most effective in order to ensure social control over natural resources and infrastructure as commons. The event was supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Croatian National Foundation for Civil Society Development.

For more information and any additional details you can visit the ‘Reclaim the Commons’ project page or write an E-mail to Vedran Horvat at Vedran.Horvat@hr.boell.org.

This event was organised with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation. 

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