DG Trade Notes on the 7th Meeting of the ESF Policy Committee

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Meeting Report
European Services Forum (ESF)
7th Meeting on the ESF Policy Committee Brussels, 18 January 2019

Brussels, 19 January 2019

Participants: list at annex
Agenda: at annex

Commission (Robert Madelin and Michel Servoz) briefed the European Service Industry on the negotiations on services after the failure of the Ministerial Conference in Seattle. Commission highlighted that the services negotiations have started on 1 January 2019 as planned and that it will engage in them actively, on the basis of the platform of objectives presented previously to the service industry. It stressed the importance of the contribution of the service industry to the preparation of the initial request, which will be an essential step in order to create momentum for the sectoral service negotiations.

In general, the European Service Industry indicated its fear that the process of the service negotiations will loose momentum because of the failure in Seattle. It stresses that it has so far invested a lot of efforts in its preparations, and would not want to see these efforts wasted. They are prepared to take steps, including major lobbying efforts in Geneva with other service industry coalitions, to keep the process on its track.

The following points were raised by ESF:

  • Seattle highlighted major gaps between several groups e.g. developing / developed countries, US/EU, NGOs/Governments. These differences remain for the time being. The only solution is real efforts at building some bridges.
  • Seattle showed increased pressure on developed countries to address difficulties in their backyard (agriculture) which should lead us to take the request of developing countries more seriously.
  • The increased transparency in WTO which is mentioned by many WTO members, should include ESF participation or involvement in WTO meetings.
  • ESF is, contrary to its US counterpart, in favour of a comprehensive agenda. As the service negotiations are starting in 2000, they cannot be concluded if there is not a comprehensive round of negotiations going on at same time.

Michel Servoz

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