EU trade agenda set by corporate lobby, says NGO report

Original Publication Date: 
20 November, 2005

A report published on 21 November 2005 has attacked what it claims is the overwhelming influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the trade agenda pursued by the European Commission.

The report published by NGO group the Seattle to Brussels network, claims that EU trade policy is "being driven by the demands of European businesses for new markets rather than by the needs of developing countries, European citizens or the environment".

The report came on the day EU trade ministers met to set their final agenda for the WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong on 13-18 December.

The Doha trade round is titled the Doha Development round, but, say the NGO organisations, the facts behind the rhetoric do not back up this claim. Far from promoting development in non-EU countries, the real agenda of the EU, led by the big business lobby, is to force open the markets in these countries for exploitation by European and transnational corporations.

Issues:

Services

Although press reports of the WTO trade round have focussed on agriculture, the EU is actively pushing the opening up of the services markets in developing countries, says the report. According to John Hilary of the UK organisation, War on Want, this policy is dictated by the European Services Forum, a network of representatives from the European services sector formed in 1999. The policy, says Hilary, aims to open up essential public services in the developing world, such as health, water and transport to competition from western corporations.

Non-agricultural market access

The question of access to non-agricultural products, such as natural resources