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Open letter to EU Ministers responsible for Trade and External Relations

22.04.2007: In advance of the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting, Luxembourg, 23-24 April 2007 - From civil society organisations across Europe, Latin America and Asia

New FTA negotiating directives and the Global Europe policy

We, the undersigned, wish to express our grave concern at the European Commission’s proposal to launch negotiations on five new free trade agreements (FTAs) with India, Republic of Korea, ASEAN, Central American and Andean nations. We note that the Council of Ministers is now being asked to authorise the start of these negotiations.

We consider the EU’s strategy paper Global Europe: Competing in the world, which underpins the mandates for the new FTAs, to be a serious threat to social justice, gender equity and sustainable development, both within and outside the EU. In particular:

the aggressive agenda for ‘opening markets abroad’ threatens to damage the development prospects of developing countries, to undermine food security and to cause widespread job losses, as well as adverse environmental impacts;

the inclusion of negotiations on the ‘Singapore issues’ (already rejected at the WTO) threatens to constrain developing countries’ ability to use rules on investment, competition policy and government procurement (including of utilities) to promote sustainable development, poverty reduction and universal access to public services;

the priority given to removing restrictions on business access to natural resources threatens to undermine developing countries’ management of those resources for their own developmental and environmental purposes;

We consider that this approach to the EU’s external and internal relations represents a significant departure from the EU’s stated commitments to sustainable development, social justice, gender equity and decent work. We consider it to be a narrow agenda explicitly driven by corporate interests rather than wider social and environmental imperatives. Even within the EU itself, the intention to harmonise internal EU standards with those of other trading partners (notably the USA) threatens to undermine crucial social and environmental regulations, and ultimately the European social model.

We call on the Council of Ministers to reject the recommendations from the European Commission that it be granted authority to negotiate FTAs with India, Republic of Korea, ASEAN, Central American and Andean nations on these lines. We call on the Council of Ministers instead to initiate a transparent and participatory debate among a full range of stakeholders within and outside Europe to establish what type of trade policy is most appropriate for the EU.

Signed:

  • 11.11.11, Belgium
  • ActionAid International
  • AEFJN - Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network
  • AGEZ - Arbeitsgemeinschaft Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, Austria
  • AITEC, France
  • ALOP - Asociación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones de Promoción, Latin America
  • APRODEV, Europe
  • Asia House, Germany
  • ATTAC Argentina
  • ATTAC Austria
  • ATTAC France
  • ATTAC Germany
  • ATTAC Hungary
  • ATTAC Netherlands
  • Beati i costruttori di pace, Italy
  • Berne Declaration, Switzerland
  • Both ENDS, Netherlands
  • Campaña ¿Quién debe a Quién?, Spain
  • Campaign for the Welfare State, Norway
  • Center for Encounter and Non-Violence, Austria
  • Christian Aid UK and Ireland
  • CIFCA, Latin America
  • CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium
  • COECOCEIBA-AT / Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
  • Comité pour les droits humains Daniel Gillard, Belgium
  • Coordination Paysanne Européenne / European Farmers Coordination, Europe
  • CRBM - Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, Italy
  • CRIC - Centro Regionale d’Intervento per la Cooperazione, Italy
  • Cultural Action, Korea
  • Dutch Association of Worldshops, Netherlands
  • Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
  • EURAFAIR, Germany
  • Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED) / Church Development Service, Germany
  • Fairfood, Netherlands
  • Fellowship of Reconciliation, Austria
  • FOCO - Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, Argentina
  • Focus on the Global South - India, Philippines, Thailand
  • France Amérique Latine, France
  • Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
  • FoEE - Friends of the Earth Europe
  • Friends of the Earth, England, Wales, Northern Ireland
  • FTA Watch, Thailand
  • GATS Platform, Netherlands
  • Germanwatch, Germany
  • IDEALS - Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, Philippines
  • IGTN - International Gender and Trade Network
  • India Committee of the Netherlands
  • Institute for Global Justice, Indonesia
  • Institute for Popular Democracy, Philippines
  • ISGN-Asia, International South Group Network, Philippines
  • Joint Action against Water Privatization, Korea
  • Korea Federation of Public Services & Transportation Workers’ Unions (KPTU)
  • Korea Livestock Cooperation Federation Labor Union
  • Korean Alliance against Korea-US FTA
  • Korean Civil Society Coalition against Korea-US FTA on Intellectual Property Rights
  • Korean Government Employees’ Union (KGEU)
  • Korean Professors Union
  • Liga Manggagawa, Philippines
  • Manitese, Italy
  • Mesa Global , Guatemala
  • Mia Son, MD Department of Preventive Medicine, Kangwon National University Medical School, Korea
  • Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization, Malaysia
  • Movimiento Boliviano por la Soberanía y la Integración Solidaria de los Pueblos - contra el TLC y el ALCA, Bolivia
  • Movimiento Madre Tierra, Honduras
  • National Associations of Professors for Democratic Society (NAPDS), Korea
  • National Union of Media Workers, Korea
  • NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark
  • Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Catalunya, Spain
  • Oxfam International
  • People Before Profit, Korea
  • Platform Aard Boer Consument, Netherlands
  • Progressive Education Research Institute, Korea
  • Resource Center for People’s Development, Philippines
  • Solidarity with Guatemala, Austria
  • SOMO, Netherlands
  • Stop the New Round Coalition, Philippines
  • Tearfund, UK
  • TNI - Transnational Institute, Netherlands
  • Traidcraft, UK
  • Vredeseilanden, Belgium
  • War on Want, UK
  • WEED, Germany
  • WEMOS, Netherlands
  • WIDE - Women In Development Europe, Europe
  • Workers Institute for Management Analysis (WIMA), Korea
  • Workers Institute of Social Science, Korea
  • World Development Movement, UK
  • X-Y Solidarity Fund, Netherlands