Trading away public services – How the EU handles its FTA negotiations

Media Advisory (27 October 2011)

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), the Austrian trade union federation (OGB) office in Brussels and organisations of the Canadian civil society organise a press conference to present the study “Public services in bilateral free trade agreements of the EU” carried out by Professor Markus Krajewski, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. The study examines the possible implications of proposed changes in the way public services are dealt with in EU trade agreements, as illustrated by the Canada- Europe Free Trade Agreement, the so-called Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), currently being negotiated.

The CETA is hardly noticed in Europe while there is widespread opposition to it in Canada. Many civil society organisations are opposing the agreement because they fear that the proposed investment chapter in the deal would give oil companies new tools to undermine or block climate policies they do not like, both in the EU and in Canada. This however is not only the polemic issue. In the current context of crisis and indebted local and regional governments, the CETA 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 press conference will be an opportunity to assess the risks to public services in the CETA and to discuss how increased liberalisation of public services in trade agreements limits possibilities for public authorities to provide and regulate public services in the general interest. The press conference will also be an opportunity to hear about the mounting opposition to the CETA that exists in Canada. For this the press conference will count with the presence of Scott Sinclair from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Last but not least, the press conference will include the participation of MEP Jörg Leichtfried, who will talk about the role that the European Parliament can play in trade negotiations.

The Press conference will take place on Monday 7 November at 13h - Room F at the International Trade Union House (ITUH), Boulevard Albert II, 5 - 1210 Brussels metro Rogier]; sandwiches and refreshments provided.

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