We were absolutely thrilled when we found out that we were given the opportunity to do the workshop with a group of lawyers. During the previous sessions and with some of the responses to our online questionnaire we had run into questions about the legality and legal feasibility of some of the proposals. So we prepared a completely different workshop to go into these issues. We had three leading themes: the climate, human rights and privatisation.
As for the climate, we were interested to find out who owns it. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But some states in America for instance are claiming to own the rainwater and actively punishing people for collecting it, many countries are experimenting with climate control, actually deciding where it won’t rain, where it will and when, and also in Europe new laws are in the making. When it comes to human rights we were wondering if it is legal for instance that supermarket directors force their staff to cover their leftover food in chlorine before they throw it out, so that poor people cant take it out of the garbage to eat. After all, the first article of The Declaration of Human Rights to which Portugal is bound states that we should act towards each other in the spirit of brotherhood… As for privatisation: Portugal is currently being forced by the Troika (EC, ECB and IMF) to sell their state companies, often at a bargaining price. When you look at it from a historic perspective, the promises of privatisation were never kept. We were promised more competition, more efficiency and hence a lower price for a better product. It didn’t turn out that way… Since then, the Dutch government in 2004 passed a law banning private sector provision of water supply and the Italian Constitutional Court ruled that any future legislation attempting to privatise public services would be unconstitutional. State companies are an investment made by many generations, is it legal for the Troika to knowingly and willingly force the Portuguese to treat their communal investment so badly?
Maybe our questions were naive, this is possible since it is not our area of expertise, but in any case: Much to our great regret the lawyers were unable or unwilling to get into a debate with us over these matters and the workshop remained without any significant, noteworthy results. So if you are reading this and want to contribute to our project by sharing your thoughts: PLEASE! You can email us or simply put your thoughts in the comment area below. MANY THANKS!