SPAIN: Government to authorise water trading

The Spanish Government plans today to approve a reform of the country's water law, permitting open market trading in water rights for irrigation and water supply purposes.

According to the Spanish national daily, El Pais, the new reforms would allow private individuals and organisations to make contracts for the sale and purchase of water. Such contracts would be valid unless opposed by the relevant regional water authority within the first month.

The reform is opposed by the socialist opposition party (PSOE) and by environmental groups. The PSOE says it will challenge the legality of the reform since it is attempting to privatise a public good that cannot be sold, which is against the country’s constitution, reports El Pais.

The Government had attempted to negotiate an agreed reform package with the PSOE, but negotiations broke down in January this year. The Government made one concession to the PSOE position, namely the exclusion of the hydro-electric sector from trading its water rights.

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