European Parliament's intergroup Commons kicks off

(29 May 2015) With austerity policies impacting on public services and commercialisation increasingly effecting more spheres of public space, people in many European countries are developing alternatives, to cooperate in defense of what is of all use. Representatives of many such initiatives came together in the European Parliament to share experience and practice, how we can work together and if the European level can contribute. Members of different political parties are cooperating to explore if the European Parliament could assist by defining the "commons", "bien commune". This could help to keep such areas outside of the market place and insulate them from for-profit operation. The management of water resources and drinking water supply are well known examples of a commons. Recently also the internet is seen as a Digital Commons.

One definition on the commons to illustrate what the issue is suggested by Other Worlds, a women driven organisation, "The global commons is the set of natural resources, basic services, public spaces, cultural traditions, and other essentials of life and society that are, or should be, part of a public trust to be enjoyed by all people and cherished for the planet’s well-being. The common good. Behind the commons is the fundamental idea that life, information, human relationships, popular culture, and the earth’s riches are sacrosanct and not for sale."

The Italian Senate has installed a commons commission lead by Stefano Rodota a well known lawyer to explore the legal definition and what it implies. This was debated with other thinkers on the commons such as Benjamin Coriat who introduced the basic concepts of the commons (rights, participation and democracy, transparency, governance) and and Michel Bauwens and compared with practical examples of how people seek to take shared control. EPSU's General Secretary presented the Right to Water European Citizens Initiative and how people and organisations had participated to define a right for people and to keep drinking water and sanitation outside of the market sphere. He referred to the reaction of the European Commission to call water a "bien commune" something the report of the European Parliament on the ECI Right to Water can build on further.

This intergroup has been supported by the political groups of S&D, Greens, GUE/Green Left and the Italian part of the EFDD (5 Star Movement). The meeting was chaired by Marisa Matias and Ernaut Urtusun of the European Greens, Sergio Cofferati of the S&D and Dario Tamburrano of the EFDD were concluding agreeing to continue to cooperate to seek a common understanding and definition. The meeting took place 26 May 2015, Brussels.

For a report of the meeting by the secretariat of the commons

For a report of the Roadmap

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