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European Commission support for corporate interests Repsol over people’s interest is scandalous

EPSU Press communication

(18 April 2012) Argentine President Kirchner stated that she will propose to the Argentine Parliament the partial nationalisation of the oil company YPF.

YPF is a subsidiary of Spanish oil company Repsol, which owns 57% of the shares. Repsol is shouting out loud how unjust this is and seeks international arbitration. The Spanish government is threatening revenge. It is followed by most commentators in the media in supporting the interests of the company.

But most amazing of all is the direct support the European Commission and its President Barroso is giving the company. A European Commission mission will visit Argentina to explore the situation and presumably provide assistance to the lobby of the Spanish company to protest against the decision. This mission of the European Commission reveals once again how Commissioners eat out of the hands of corporate Europe and how deeply ingrained the corporate bias of the Commission and EU institutions has become.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) condemns this corporate takeover of the European decision-making process. “The depth of the corporate bias of the European Commission is truly astonishing. Whereas the Commission reacts in an instant when corporate interests are threatened, we have not seen the same keenness of the European Commission to support workers and citizens protesting against the privatisation of publicly owned companies delivering essential services such as drinking water and electricity, even if protesters die” says EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan.

Where is the mission of the European Commission to give assistance to :
- the people of Thessaloniki who oppose the privatisation of their water company,
- the Portuguese people who fight against selling of the water companies in Portugal or to the mass demonstrations and petition of 165.000 people of Madrid against the proposals to give away Canal Isabel II to private companies

The conquistador attitude of the Commission to ride roughshod over the interests of the Argentine people to reverse what they consider faulty privatisation decisions, is reminiscent of how the Commission pushes for more austerity policies against the protests of millions in Europe. We consider the interest of workers and citizens to keep publicly owned companies public or to reverse privatisation decisions as legitimate ,” adds Goudriaan.

The Argentine government argues that the company is not meeting its commitments to oil-drilling. It does not invest and does not produce enough oil, thus keeping prices high. 16 provinces have revoked petroleum concessions held by Repsol-YPF in recent weeks.

A wealth of information on the problems of privatisation but also on the long drawn-out battles to reverse such decisions and return private companies into public ownership is available at PSIRU

For more information contact Pablo Sanchez, 00 32 474 62 66 33 psanchez epsu.org

EPSU is the European Federation of Public Service Unions. It is the largest federation of the ETUC and comprises 8 million public service workers from over 275 trade unions; EPSU organizes workers in the energy, water and waste sectors, health and social services and local and national administration, in all European countries including in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood. EPSU is the recognized regional organization of Public Services International (PSI).