SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer protests at the WTO against further liberalisation

20 October 2005

SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer protests at the WTO against further liberalisation

On the eve of the WTO Summit SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer and several of his colleagues from the European Parliament's United Left Group (GUE-NGL) visited the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters in Geneva. It quickly became obvious that many of the discussions at the upcoming summit meeting of the WTO would take place behind closed doors. As Erik Meijer said, “The poorest countries and those who are making the most vociferous demands for their right to development will in particular be excluded.”.

The European agenda for this summit is dominated by a free market obsession with demands principally involving the further liberalisation of services and the lowering of import tariffs on goods. Both go much further than the so-called Doha development agenda intended. According to this agenda WTO agreements must improve the trade situation of developing countries and negotiations would in the main be limited to agriculture and goods, but the industrialised countries in particular now want to bring in all sorts of new subjects such as trade in services, and intellectual property rights.

The EU's behaviour is entirely in line with attempts within Europe to force down wages and social costs and claims that more and more firms are moving to countries with fewer regulations, as well as the further liberalisation of the services sector as foreseen in such measures as the Bolkestein directive. .

Erik Meijer: “Just as was the case in the run-up to the WTO summit in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003, we are witnessing the results of eye-catching promises. The US, just like the EU, is the most vociferous in calling for export subsidies in agriculture to be lowered. Yet at the same time it is becoming increasingly uncertain that an agreement on this will be reached, and meanwhile lots of other irresponsible subsidies continue to be paid to, for the most part, agri-business corporations.”

The GUE delegation in Geneva is demanding an immediate end to export subsidies for agricultural products throughout the industrialised countries. European agricultural policy should principally be aimed at supporting real farmers as well as the protection of the environment and landscape. Developing countries should have the right to protect their nascent and growing industries. Liberalisation of the services sector, Meijer argues, is only good for the multinationals operating within it. “It's much more important to improve the provision of public services, but that's precisely what is now under intense fire.” .

A delegation from the European Parliament GUE group will also attend the WTO summit in Hong Kong in December, observing the meetings and working together with social organisations, NGOs, progressive political parties and human rights groups.

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