GATS 2000 Negotiations -- Reactions to Leaked EC Documents


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GATS 2000

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GATSwatch recently published a series of leaked EC documents, containing the detailed 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.

This page provides access to press releases and media coverage from around the world sparked by the publication of the confidential documents.

16 April

Leaked Confidential EU Documents Confirm Controversial Character of GATS Negotiations
GATSwatch, first public announcement of leaked documents

European Commission proposals to open up service markets around the world leaked
Friends of the Earth International, press announcement

Leaked EU requests on service liberalisation in the WTO reveal threats for people, the environment and democracy
Friends of the Earth International, press release

Leaked documents expose looming political challenge for Canada
Council of Canadians, press release

The European Commission's GATS Position; A Bad Bargain for Canada
Ellen Gould, analytical paper

17 April 2019

Secret documents reveal EU's tough stance on global trade
John Vidal, Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott, The Guardian

The European Union is demanding full-scale privatisation of public monopolies across the world as its price for dismantling the common agricultural policy in the new round of global trade talks, secret documents leaked to the Guardian revealed yesterday.

The bananas for banking agenda
Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott, The Guardian

Brussels has drawn up a list of demands for the world trade talks as the price for ending the common agricultural policy.

Europe wants to muscle in on post, water markets
Toni O'Loughlin, The Sydney Morning Herald

Mail, water supplies and other publicly supplied services around the country would be thrown open to overseas companies, and foreign investment limits scrapped, under a world trade deal being pushed by European countries.

Uproar Follows Release Of Eu Water Privatization Docs
Inter Press Service, news wire

The European Union (EU) denied that it seeks to privatize all public services, including water, as stated in confidential documents attributed to the bloc that were distributed this week by non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

European Commission blackens the reputation of Europe's citizens; Secret Commission plan to attack public services by using World Trade Organisation exposed
European Federation of Public Service Unions, press release

Leaked documents of the European Commission to prepare its position for the negotiations on a General Agreement on Trade and Services (WTO) demonstrate that the European Commission is demanding that developing countries liberalise water, energy and other essential services. The document, which has been prepared in secrecy, reveals that the Commission is following a big business agenda. Despite previous assurances from the Commission, the document clearly shows that essential services are being targeted.

Leaked documents expose EU grab for control of water and electricity services worldwide
World Development Movement, press release

The World Development Movement (WDM) today condemned the EU as "preparing to trample all over sustainable development objectives in the naked pursuit of the interests of European multinational service corporations", after drafts of the EU's objectives for World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on trade in services were revealed on the internet today.

GATS - The European Union and its member states request
ATTAC France, announcement

No thanks to the Commission, we have received the first detailed "requests" from the EU to the so-called Group I countries [the richer, larger ones] in the GATS "request-offer" process. We hope the same source will be able to provide us with the requests to Group II toward the end of April.

Globalisierungskritiker veröffentlichen die geheime Liste der EU-Liberalisierungswünsche
ATTAC Germany, press statement

Attac International hat auf seiner Website die geheimen Listen der Liberalisierungs-wünsche der EU an 28 der wichtigsten WTO-Mitgliedsländer - darunter die USA, die Schweiz, Indien und Brasilien - veröffentlicht. Die Listen, die alle mit der Aufforderung "Member States are requested to ensure that this text is not made publicly available and is only circulated to the officials concerned" beginnen, sind am Dienstag der Organisation "GATS Watch" zugespielt worden.

Secret EU document threatens Post, Telstra and Australian foreign ownership rules
Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network, media release

A leaked secret European Union document about the current WTO Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations shows that the EU is seeking global rules which remove the right of Australian governments to regulate essential services, says Dr Patricia Ranald, the convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET). AFTINET is a network of over 50 community organisations which conducts public education on trade policy.

The Government of India should unconditionally reject EC requests
Equations (India), public statement

The Draft EC requests to WTO member governments has been leaked and even a cursory glance shows the enormity of the challenge faced by developing countries. The implications of the requests are clear for India. It is a frontal attack on the Indian constitution, its commitment to decentralisation and the obligation of the state to provide basic services to its citizens. On all accounts the EC requests add one more chapter to the murky saga of GATS in which developing countries have played a marginal and defensive role.

18 April 2019

A privatisers' hit list
Katharine Ainger, The Guardian

European Commission demands to deregulate services spell disaster for the developing world

How the rich rule the poor
Clare Joy, World Development Movement, letter to The Guardian

The leaked documents vindicate WDM's claim that the Gats puts the needs of Europe's large service corporations before those of the world's poor and will severely damage the ability of countries to set basic development priorities. WDM has been raising these concerns since negotiations began two years ago. The UK government can no longer ignore us.

EU 'does not want to privatise Third World'
Stephen Castle, The Independent

The European Commission rejected as "patently false" yesterday claims that it is demanding that several Third World countries privatise their public monopolies as part of the new global trade talks. EU trade officials did confirm that they had asked for key sectors such as water distribution and energy in developing countries to be opened to more foreign competition.

Katze aus dem Sack; Geheime EU-Papiere dokumentieren Privatisierungsoffensive
Wolfgang Pomrehn, Junge Welt

Ganz so hatte sich EU-Handelskommissar Pascal Lamy die Sache wohl nicht vorgestellt. Anstatt wie gewohnt in aller Ruhe im stillen Kämmerlein eine ruhige Kugel zu schieben und die Liberalisierung des Welthandels voranzutreiben, muß er sich nun der öffentlichen Kritik stellen.

Statement to Commissioner Lamy on Leaked EU GATS Request
Save the Children UK, public statement

Save the Children is gravely concerned at the content of the leaked GATS requests which have been brought to public attention this week. The requests - as prepared by the Commission for discussion at the EU's 133 Committee - represent an aggressive assault on the service sectors of other WTO member states, including those of several developing countries. While this aggression is clearly intended to serve the interests of private sector service providers in the EU, it does not serve the development needs of children and their families in poor communities across the world.

19 April 2019

Commission denies rumours over secret document calling for dismantling of public monopolies in developing countries
Agence Europe, news wire

The European Commission has flatly denied the existence of a "secret" strategic document aimed at securing from EU trading partners, including developing countries like India, China, Egypt and Mexico, that they dismantle their public monopolies in a series of sectors as essential as water supply and the management of energy resources, in the framework of multinational negotiations on the services chapter of the Doha Agenda.

20 April 2019

Most Significant Leak Since The MAI
Arena (New Zealand), media release

In the most significant leak since the Multilateral Agreement on Investment was exposed to public scrutiny in 1997 and eventually sunk, drafts of the European Union's 'requests' of other countries in the WTO services negotiations have just been posted on a European website (

European Water Multinationals Are Already In NZ! The EC Water Privatisation 'Wishlist' Is No Laughing Matter!
Water Pressure Group (Auckland, New Zealand), media release

"The European Commission 'wishlist' of public services they want opened up for their multinationals to get access to, as the price for removing their agricultural subsidies - is no laughing matter," said Water Pressure Group Media Spokesperson Penny Bright.

UK Development Minister writes MPs on Leaked GATS Documents
Clare Short, letter to MPs

Let me start by saying that the recent campaigning against GATS has been very misleading.

21 April 2019

Re: Clare Short's Letter to Members of the UK Parliament
Erik Wesselius, GATSwatch comment

In her letter to British MPs, UK Development Minister Clare Short defends the GATS by repeating some of the 'arguments' brought forward by the WTO secretariat in its pamphlet "GATS Facts and Fiction", a year ago.

22 April 2019

Reaction to the leaks of the EC draft requests
European Commission, official reaction, ACJ/acj

We strongly regret this leak. It is irresponsible because the EU's internal processes are not yet complete and the papers are still being discussed between the Commission and Member States. Consequently, these documents do not yet reflect an official EU positions. In each negotiations there is a time for confidential reflection and discussion.

EU:s attack against developing countries. Gunnar Ohrlander reads a secret document
Gunnar Ohrlander, Aftonbladet

EU:s attack mot u-länderna. GUNNAR OHRLANDER läser ett hemligt dokument
EU är nu i full färd med att köra upp världens fattiga länder mot väggen. Det framgår av ett hemligt dokument som läckte ut från Bryssel i veckan. På tusen sidor dras strategin upp för att öppna u-länderna för den rika världens företag och tvinga dem att privatisera strategiska områden som vatten, energiförsörjning, bankväsende, post och tele.

Trading Services for Agriculture - "Bring it on!" Trade Network tells EU
Trade Liberalisation Network (New Zealand), press release

"Bring it on!" was the response of Trade Liberalisation Network Executive Director, Stephen Jacobi to the EU's "wish list" for services negotiations the Doha trade round.

Full Steam ahead with Trade Liberalisation
Trade Liberalisation Network (New Zealand), press release

Mike Moore urges Auckland business leaders not to leave making the case for trade reform to "the most deranged ex-university professor and the strongest headline".

EU's wish list for NZ 'laughable'
Christine Langdon, The Dominion

The European Union will be laughed at by the Government if it presents a list of "requests" for liberalising trade that has been leaked in advance of World Trade Organisation talks.

Trade Minister's response to EU WTO Services Document Misleading: Call For NZ GATS positions to be made public
GATT Watchdog (New Zealand), media release

GATT Watchdog says that Jim Sutton's dismissal of a draft of European Union (EU) requests made of New Zealand and 28 other countries in the WTO services negotiations ( as a mere "wishlist" (Morning Report, Radio New Zealand, 22 April) is consistent with the cavalier approach with which his government is engaging in the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) negotiations.

Much at stake in services negotiation
David Jessop, executive director of the Caribbean Council for Europe, The Jamaica Observer

Do you own or finance a locally owned business in the services sector in the Caribbean? Do you work in tourism; the financial sector or insurance; the mail service; as an architect or lawyer; or in a supermarket? If you do, you, your employer or union should inform government and the Regional Negotiating Machinery of the position you wish them to take in services negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva. There, very soon, governments will consider whether to dismantle regulations that discriminate nationally in favour of activities undertaken or provided solely by local enterprise.

Leaked EU Documents Show What's Next in the WTO
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, statement

In 1998, opponents of corporate globalization scored a significant victory when the text of the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in the OECD was made available through the internet. Key governments were embarrassed into withdrawing their support for what was widely (and correctly) perceived to be a charter of unlimited transnational investor rights. The MAI's corporate backers, however, never abandoned the project.

23 April 2019

Leaked EC Draft Requests Bring Mixed Reactions
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest

On 16 April, a storm of protest amongst civil society groups erupted after a set of confidential draft "requests" prepared by the European Commission were leaked to the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) -- which subsequently made the EC documents publicly available on its GATSwatch website. NGOs such as Oxfam UK, the World Development Movement (WDM), Attac and Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) subsequently voiced considerable concern over the EC's services-related requests to some of its WTO trading partners. By contrast, responses from Geneva delegations of the countries which were to receive the requests were mixed, with most delegates not surprised by the EC papers, while others were content to see the types of requests to a broad range of trading partners.

EU wants services in open zone
Brian Fallow, The New Zealand Herald

The European Commission has drawn up a wide-ranging wish list of concessions it wants from New Zealand in services negotiations under the Doha trade round. The EU wants an end to the requirement for Overseas Investment Commission approval of foreign purchases of rural land or of business acquisitions over a certain threshold (which was raised to $50 million in 1999).

24 April 2019

Money talks
Kevin Watkins (Oxfam policy director), The Guardian

When it comes to double-dealing in world trade, nobody does it better than the EU. Like a junky that promises to do better but can't kick the habit, our governments are just hooked on hypocrisy - and developing countries pay the price.

Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network demands secret WTO talks be made public
AFTINET, media release

"WTO negotiations on Trade in Services (GATS) taking place behind closed doors could threaten government rights to regulate and provide essential services like education, water and postal services," Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, said today.

26 April 2019

EU wants to bid on U.S. mail
Carter Dougherty, The Washington Times

The European Union is demanding that foreign companies be allowed to compete with the U.S. Postal Service as part of World Trade Organization talks that began last year. Top Stories According to a draft copy of its demands obtained by The Washington Times, Europe also wants access to American markets for municipal water and waste services. It also will call for foreign companies to be given access to Small Business Administration loans.

30 April 2019

Clear water and the EU
Anthony Gooch (EC spokesman), Letter to the Guardian

We always welcome constructive criticism but Oxfam's Kevin Watkins (Money talks, G2, April 24) is well wide of the mark in alleging the European Union wants to arm-twist developing countries into privatising basic utilities via world trade talks.

7 May 2019

Call for transparency and assessment of services negotiations in the WTO by more than 90 civil society groups
Friends of the Earth Europe, press release

Today more than 90 civil society groups from across the EU, including from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK have sent an open letter to European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and members of the Committee 133, the EU member states body dealing with trade negotiations. In the letter groups call for complete transparency and an assessment of the on-going services negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

GATSwatch is a joint project of Corporate Europe Observatory and Transnational Institute
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