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Confidential EU documents Expose GATS


Confidential EU documents just released have exposed the true nature of the EU's General Agreements in Trade and Services (GATS) agenda.

The confidential documents are EU 'Requests' to governments in the WTO on how they should treat EU companies and business.

They show that GATS is really not an opportunity for developing countries but a deliberate global takeover of essential services and the financial infrastructure of developing countries for the benefit of EU-based transnational corporations. The EU is putting pressure on developing countries to privatize their public services and to open up their services markets for European services TNCs.

For more information on the requests to Fiji and other Pacific islands from the EU, please visit the website http://www.gatswatch.org The Pacific island countries EU requests have been made to are Fiji, PNG, and the Solomon Islands. Part of this requests also come as part of negotiations under the Cotonou Agreement.

It is no wonder many Pacific leaders have been slowly hinting the need for privatization of essential services to the public. Fiji is moving quiet strongly in this direction.

We urge you to please visit the website and print/download the requests for relevant countries in the Pacific. I have managed to print but am finding it difficult to download.

The EU is trying to spin this as a market access issue, but the document requests suggest very different. We need to study and speak out for our interests.

Stanley Simpson

Pacific Network on Globalisation

All EU GATS negotiating cards on the table

25 February 2003

According to Pascal Lamy, interviewed on BBC 4 Radio this morning: "It's a joke. These documents have been available since July 2003".

Well, they may have been available, but only to a very selected group of people and under conditions of the strictest secrecy. Green MEP Caroline Lucas, one of the few Members of the European Parliament who did get access to the 109 requests, was "instructed to keep the papers in a locked safe, to refrain from copying them or emailing them, and to shred them after reading."

And only last week, after a closed doors meeting between members of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy and Commisisoner Pascal Lamy, Social Democrat MEP Harlem Désir sent out a press release in which he objected against the fact that most MEPs have to rely on leaks through NGOs as they only have access to summaries of the negoting documents.

The 109 EU requests (that were sent to other WTO member states in July 2002), were recently obtained by the Canadian Polaris Institute and have now been put in the public domain. http://www.gatswatch.org/requests-offers.html

Now that the 109 EU requests are available it is very clear why the European Commission has tried to keep them secret. The documents reveal how the European Union is putting pressure on developing countries to opening up their services markets (including public services like drinking water or energy) and to open up their services markets for European services TNCs. For example, countries like Tanzania, Mozambique and Bangladesh are asked to open up their markets for drinking water supply. In pursuing a corporate-driven agenda towards developing countries, the European Commission seems to have forgotten the golden rule of doing as you would be done by: according to the EU's initial draft GATS offer, the EU itself is (with good reason!) not intending to liberalize drinking water and other public services under the GATS.

See http://www.gatswatch.org/requests-offers.html

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