Mandelson drops development guise and launches final attack on European Social model

Original Publication Date: 
3 October, 2006

The EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will today announce a damaging new corporate-driven trade strategy, warn European activist groups and civil society organisations united in the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B).

The EU’s external trade policy will undermine the European social model. The EU’s insistence upon the ‘least trade-restrictive’ regulations has the potential to wipe out a wide range of policies, from food safety standards to job security. Meanwhile, European and foreign corporations are being given an ever greater say in Europe ’s policy decision-making process, through a system of prior consultations.

The European Commission’s aggressive new ‘competitiveness’ drive also threatens to cause mass unemployment and poverty in developing countries, pitting their poor farmers and infant industries against some of the world’s most powerful transnational corporations. Mandelson is also attempting to re-introduce issues such as government procurement and investment, repeatedly rejected by developing countries in world trade talks.

The Seattle to Brussels (S2B) network, representing more than 70 activist groups, civil society organisations and networks from all over Europe, condemns Mandelson’s initiative. “If the European Union accepts this vision, millions of poor farmers and workers both in Europe and in the global South will lose their livelihoods”, says Susan George, board director of the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute. “By repackaging issues that poor countries have already rejected, the EU is denying developing countries the right to local business development.“

S2B also firmly denounces the EU’s drive for internal restructuring in the interest of trade facilitation. Marc Maes of 11.11.11 ( Belgium) said: “By imposing ‘least trade restrictive’ criteria, the EU is putting the breakdown of regulation at the core of its external competitiveness strategy. This will lead to increased hard-nosed competition, flexibilisation and deregulation. It will also place severe limits upon the capacity of governments to set their own social and environmental protection policies.”