Common Goods in Europe

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European Alternatives:

"The dichotomy of private property and the state has proven incapable of resisting the distortions produced by more than 20 years of neoliberal order. The outcome has been a global and severe imbalance, favouring the private sector and specifically corporate interests at the expense of the people. Our strand of work on common goods tries to find alternatives to the current trend of privatisations defining and defending resources that are fundamental to human life. These include both natural commons like water, food, energy and the atmosphere, as well as manmade commons, like technology, health, the internet and culture." (


- The Union recognises and respects access to services of general economic interest as provided for in national laws and practices, in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community, in order to promote the social and territorial cohesion of the Union. (Article 36 of the Charter of Fundamental rights

In the last twenty years, European have been told that the state was not the best actor to manage services of general economic interests and that water, electricity and gas distribution, telecoms, health delivery services, higher and lower education, among other things, would be better off if managed by for-profit bodies. The European crisis has shown that this was not the case, but the idea that state centralisation is the answer does not resonate well, either, among citizens. Rather, common ownership and common management of the Commons should be discussed and sought. The results of the referendum on public management of water in Italy in 2011, the protests that brought down the Romanian government after it announced that healthcare would be further privatised, the struggle against the ACTA law threatening to reduce internet freedom, are all symptoms of a discourse emerging on common management of resources of general economic interest. The developments in ICT allow for a bigger role played by citizens in participative democratic exercises for management of the Commons." (