Canada - EU trade agreement: a Trojan horse against public services

(Press communication – 7 November 2011) The European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU), the Austrian Trade Union Federation (OGB) office in Brussels and the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK) organise a meeting to launch a major study that questions the objectives, motivation and rationale behind proposed changes to the current definition of public services and trade agreements.

In the current context of crisis and indebted local and regional governments, the CETA Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] – and those that follow it - may represent yet another push for privatization and outsourcing of public services, for example in water or waste, at a time when public services are being re-municipalised in countries such as Germany, France, Spain or Italy.

"The experience of the postal services in the last decades in Europe are a warning of the future of other public services. The "salami" theory where by services are split up in their definition is very dangerous and push for privatisation" said Professor Markus Krajewski from University of Erlangen-Nuremberg as he presented [his study
). It examines the possible implications of proposed changes in the way public services are dealt with in EU trade agreements, as illustrated by this Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement (CETA), currently being negotiated.

For trade unions it is important to make noise about this agreement because it is yet another step in the path of further privatisation and liberalisation. The organisers wonder why there is no real public debate about the potential impact on public service. This debate is being hidden from the public arena.

MEP Jörg Leichtfried, member of the International Trade Committee and EU-Canada delegation, expressed his concerns, "some of us in the European Parliament are very concerned about the lack of transparency of these negotiations and we do not believe that the European Commission should keep pushing this neoliberal agenda. From my point of view public services should be excluded from any trade agreement".

On the Canadian side, Scott Sinclair from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said that "the experience in Canada shows us that putting a NAFTA- style in investment provisions in this Canada-EU free trade agreement could be a real game-changer for European public services”.

EPSU will continue to campaign and mobilise to prevent public services from further liberalisation.

For more information please contact: Pablo Sanchez, 00 32 474 62 66 33

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).

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