Democrat April 2006 (Number 61)
EU demands world wide privatisation
Honor Mahony and Sharon Spiteri of the EU Observer
In return for dismantling the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the new round of global trade talks, the European Union is demanding full-scale privatisation of public monopolies around the world, reports The Guardian.
A 1000 page document prepared by the Commission for approval by Member States next month, calls for the opening up of trading partners' sensitive sectors including water, energy, sewerage, telecoms, post and the financial services.
Secret documents leaked to the Guardian show that the EU has detailed a long list of restrictions that it would like its trading partners to drop. Specific requests include requiring New York Estate Agents to be US Nationals, the ban in Mexico on foreigners owning land within 50km of the border and rules in Korea that restrict the sale of alcohol to licensed providers.
Development campaigners were alarmed and stated: "We are shocked by how the EU is preparing to trample over its claims to be in favour of sustainable development in naked pursuit of the interests of European multinational service corporations," Dave Timms of World Development told the Guardian.
This follows mounting pressure in the Doha trade rounds last November for Brussels to do away with its protectionist system of agricultural subsidies and tariff walls. Member States themselves have been slow to open their own national monopolies, especially in the energy and postal sectors so these demands are likely to be met with opposition from the European Union's trading partners.
According to the Commission spokesperson for Trade, Anthony Gooch, the allegations are incorrect. Gooch said the documents refered to as secret, had been widely available for some time.
The Commission presented these documents to the member states in order to get their feedback before presenting their request at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).