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The Stranglehold of Private Competence and Monopolistic Markets

Even if Paris will definitively be rid of Veolia and Suez at the end of 2009, the future will in no way be “a piece of cake”. The hangovers from the Global Player’s era will be numerous. There are also heated discussions going on in the 144 Ile-de-France communes surrounding Paris whether the contracts with Veolia and Suez expiring in 2010 should be renewed. The supporters of a continuation of the concession are afraid that, without the technical and human competences of Veolia and Suez, the water syndicate could be in big trouble. It is a fact that in the past, the communes have not been too concerned to build up a roster of water specialists, nor have they established their own research facilities. In France, the monopoly for the development of the technology and the formation in this sector has been left to Veolia, Suez and Saur. Anne Le Strat has taken us to see a building site where water canalisations were open to be fitted with sensors to detect burst pipes. A discovery patented by Veolia and certified by the EU as standard technique to detect leakages from afar. The public water syndicate “Eau de Paris” will have to purchase this technology from Veolia at highly monopolistic prices. An alternative to this will not be easy to find – the same goes with water quality control, for which in the early days official laboratories were responsible. Today, it is in the hands of three multi-national companies: Eurofins, Carso and Pasteur Lille. All three have strong ties with Veolia, Suez and Saur.