General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) - Mode 4 negotiations (movement of physical persons)

European Economic and Social Committee, Group II

Selection of the opinions adopted by the EESC Plenary session on 8 and 9 June 2005

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(For the ETUC and the European Industry Federations)

World trade


General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) - Mode 4 negotiations (movement of physical persons)


Exploratory opinion - EESC 695/ 2005


Mrs Susanna Florio (Group II/IT)


By 134 votes in favour, 1 against and 7 abstentions.


The GATS Mode 4 negotiations are considered to be a key element in ongoing WTO negotiations for opening up international trade in services. The presence of natural persons is the fourth mode in which services are provided. It consists of persons of one Member temporarily entering the territory of another Member to supply a service (e.g. accountants, doctors or teachers). It does not relate to persons seeking citizenship, permanent employment or permanent residence in a country.The EESC considers that in order to further liberalise trade in services, the EU should first take steps to specify that the Directive on Posted Workers is also the basis for the temporary movement of workers. It should also be clarified which EU legislative reference framework is to apply to the liberalisation of services within the internal market (see draft Directive on Services in the internal market), and a clear distinction should be made between services of general interest (including health, education, energy, gas); economic and non-economic services; services for commercial and non-commercial purposes, and services of another nature.The EESC urges the EU and the MS not to accept any widening of Mode 4 to semi-skilled or unskilled workers for the time being. This would effectively lead to a situation in which the basic principle of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), that "labour is not a commodity" could be jeopardised. The EESC cannot accept that the temporary movement of workers, de facto temporary migration, would primarily be regulated through the WTO and the GATS agreement, without any guarantees for human rights or the observance of core labour standards, such as non-discrimination. A functioning cooperation between WTO and at least the ILO, the International Migration Organisation (IMO) and the UN to protect the rights of temporary migrants should be ensured. The EESC believes that European Governments should reconsider ratification of the UN's International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which came into force in July 2003.