Brussels, 16 April 2002 – Leaked copies of requests by the European Commission to member states of the WTO reveal that the EU demands a full range of service liberalisation that could pose threats to people, the environment and democracy.

Secret documents (1) obtained by trade campaigners show that the EC requests services liberalisation from WTO partner countries, including on controversial matters such as water, energy, tourism and transport. The leaked requests directed at 27 WTO member countries(2) focus on eliminating trade barriers and regulations that restrict trade in services in WTO member countries.

On water, the EC request to open up the water sector including water collection and distribution to international competitors. Despite the controversial nature of the negotiations, the European Commission has so far stated that these documents will not be made available to the public.
WTO members need to file their request for service liberalisation by 30 June 2002 as a follow up of the last WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha in November 2001. The EC will also receive requests to liberalise their service market that will also be negotiated in secrecy behind closed doors.

Alexandra Wandel of FoE Europe said: ‘’The broad range of liberalisation could pose serious threats to people and the environment. It is unacceptable that these negotiations are conducted in secrecy. We demand the full release of all draft requests of the EC to WTO member countries. In addition, we reiterate that there needs to be an assessment of the environmental, social and economic implications of the GATS negotiations now, before proceeding with further negotiations. ‘’

Alexandra Wandel, FoEE, tel: 32-2-542 01 85

(1) The documents have been released today on the GATSwatch website. The obtained documents include 29 out of 112 planned requests which the European Commission intends to submit on behalf of the EU to WTO member states by June 2002.
(2) The countries are India, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Switzerland, Colombia, Panama, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Argentine, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Egypt, Israel, South Africa and Mexico