June 14, 2001 – On the eve of the EU summit in Gothenborg over 60 civil society groups from all around the world launch a statement today that calls on the EU to withdraw its proposal for a new and comprehensive round of trade talks in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Instead the EU should take the lead in calling for fundamental change in the world’s trading system, in line with its own sustainable development and human rights objectives.

The signatories from 25 countries argue that the EU’s proposal remains virtually unchanged since the WTO’s last Ministerial in Seattle in December 1999, when it contributed to the collapse of negotiations due to the unprecedented opposition from developing countries and civil society groups. In the statement, NGOs warn that the same tensions could cause the collapse of the 4th WTO Ministerial to be held in Doha, Qatar from 9-13 November 2001.

The statement says ‘A new round is not inevitable. Furthermore, mandated negotations already underway are sufficiently controversial, having the potential to have severe negative impacts on people, the environment and local economies in both the North and the South.’

Signatories call on the EU to start ‘calling on WTO members to commission an independent review of and to rectify the deficiencies of the world trade system and the WTO itself. Such a review should address the WTO’s impact on marginalised communities, development, democracy, environment, health, human rights, the rights of women and children and labour an consumer’s rights.

For the complete statement and the list of signatories see www.foeeurope.org

Contact in Gothenborg:
Alexandra Wandel, Friends of the Earth Europe (in Gothenborg until 16 June), tel: +49-172-748 39 53
Klas Ronnback, Miljoforbundet Jordens Vanner/Friends of the Earth Sweden, tel:+46-739-057760

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