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Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 11
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Leaked Confidential Documents Reveal EC`s Neoliberal GATS Agenda

A series of leaked confidential documents, prepared by the European Commission for the WTO negotiations on liberalisation of trade in services (GATS 2000) are now available on our GATSwatch website.

The released documents contain the requests that the European Commission is proposing to make for removing or adapting laws and regulations that restrict trade in services in 29 WTO member states, including the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea China, Egypt, and India. The request lists confirms the EC`s intentions to use the GATS talks to deregulate and de facto privatise essential services, particularly in the South. They reveal the EC`s obsessive pursuit of the interests of large EU-based corporations and the hypocrisy of its proclaimed commitment to sustainable development.

The leaked documents show that the European Union intends to ask all WTO member states to open up the water sector (including water collection, purification, distribution and wastewater treatment) for international competition. Water in developing countries is a major target for European corporations like, Suez, Vivendi and Thames. The EC also demands liberalisation of large parts of the energy sector and various other sectors, including retail, tourism and transport. It targets a variety of public interest laws aiming to regulate foreign investment, such as the Malaysian law prohibiting land purchases for purely speculative purposes, an Egyptian law limiting the number of hotels and bank branches depending on an economic needs test, and regulations in Mexico and Chile restricting foreign ownership of land in coastal areas.

If it had been up to the European Commission, parliamentarians and the general public would never have had access to the draft request lists. EU-based groups campaigning on GATS now request their governments to provide full openness with regards to the GATS talks and to reject the proposed EU request lists. The groups also call for a general moratorium on the GATS 2000 talks, to allow a democratic debate over the issues that are at stake.

The EC`s draft requests, analysis and responses from campaign groups as well as examples of coverage in international media is available at http://www.gatswatch.org

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