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EU’s Culture of Secrecy Comes to Dublin: No Access to Information for TDs on Vital Trade Talks

category international | eu | feature author Thursday February 19, 2004 21:44author by dapse(r) - DAPSE (Democracy and Public Services in Europe)author email dapse at eircom dot net Report this post to the editors

'The Name of This Secretive Body is the Article 133 Committee.'

From the Newswire: 'This Friday a little-known body of the European Union will make a low-profile visit to Dublin Castle. There will be no media spotlight, no fanfare, and the anonymous civil servants who work in it will come and go unnoticed. Their work however, could have profound implications for the lives of millions of people – both within the EU and beyond. The name of this secretive body is the Article 133 Committee.

The Article 133 Committee is the body of the EU where member states discuss trade deals. The 133 Committee is currently formulating the EU’s policy for the controversial GATS negotiations at the WTO. These negotiations aim to bring about the “liberalisation” of trade in all services, including health and education services.

Ireland and other EU states are deciding what services they want to see “liberalised” and open to commercial competition - both within Europe and in the developing world. But neither the Irish Government nor the EU will tell us what they are planning to do – information on trade deals is not published until after the deals are concluded.

This is why a cross-party group of twenty one TDs have called on the Government for full transparency in the operation of the Article 133 Committee. In a letter delivered to Minister Mary Harney on Wednesday 19th February, the TDs stated:

“We, as concerned citizens and elected public representatives are disturbed that matters of public interest – including the EU and Irish government’s proposals on the opening of international trade in public services like health and education, and on trade in goods and services with developing countries – are being discussed in secret at the EU Article 133 Committee meeting in Dublin on Feb 20”

They went on to make the following request:

“In the spirit of openness, transparency and accountability, we request the right to observe at this Article 133 Committee meeting; and to have access to documents being presented by the Irish government to the meeting.”

So far, there has been no information forthcoming in response to this request.'

Further Information and Background
Details of 'Another Europe' Dublin Castle Protest - 20th Feb - 1pm
'Of particular concern is that the deliberations of the Article 133 Committee are not made public.'
Why Does Article 133 Matter?
Health and Education as a Business Opportunity: DAPSE Information
The EU Constitution, Gats and Education
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the GATS
Background From Article 133 Info Group

DAPSE PRESS RELEASE AS SUBMITTED TO IMC IRL

This Press Release has been written by the citizens group DAPSE (Democracy and Public Services in Europe) which is lobbying for greater scrutiny of the formulation of EU policy on trade in services, particularly in the context of the draft EU Constitution.

This Friday a little-known body of the European Union will make a low-profile visit to Dublin Castle. There will be no media spotlight, no fanfare, and the anonymous civil servants who work in it will come and go unnoticed. Their work however, could have profound implications for the lives of millions of people – both within the EU and beyond. The name of this secretive body is the Article 133 Committee.

The Article 133 Committee is the body of the EU where member states discuss trade deals. The 133 Committee is currently formulating the EU’s policy for the controversial GATS negotiations at the WTO. These negotiations aim to bring about the “liberalisation” of trade in all services, including health and education services.

Ireland and other EU states are deciding what services they want to see “liberalised” and open to commercial competition - both within Europe and in the developing world. But neither the Irish Government nor the EU will tell us what they are planning to do – information on trade deals is not published until after the deals are concluded.

This is why a cross-party group of twenty one TDs have called on the Government for full transparency in the operation of the Article 133 Committee. In a letter delivered to Minister Mary Harney on Wednesday 19th February, the TDs stated:

“We, as concerned citizens and elected public representatives are disturbed that matters of public interest – including the EU and Irish government’s proposals on the opening of international trade in public services like health and education, and on trade in goods and services with developing countries – are being discussed in secret at the EU Article 133 Committee meeting in Dublin on Feb 20”

They went on to make the following request:

“ In the spirit of openness, transparency and accountability, we request the right to observe at this Article 133 Committee meeting; and to have access to documents being presented by the Irish government to the meeting.”

So far, there has been no information forthcoming in response to this request.


The TDs who have signed this request are:

Michael D Higgins, Emmet Stagg, Mary Upton, Jan O’Sullivan, Eamon Gilmore,

Trevor Sargent, John Gormley, Eamon Ryan, Dan Boyle, Ciaran Cuffe, Paul Gogarty,

Caoimhghín O’Caolain, Seán Crowe, Arthur Morgan, Martin Ferris, Aengus O’Snodaig,

Finian McGrath, Tony Gregory, Séamus Healy, Joe Higgins, Marian Harkin.

The request has also been signed by the following:
Patricia McKenna MEP, Nuala Ahern MEP;
Ivana Bacik;
Sinn Féin Euro candidates Mary Lou McDonald, Bairbre DeBruin MLA, David Cullinane, John Dwyer, Pearse Doherty.

For information and comment from DAPSE, contact:
Brendan Young. 085 713 1903 Conor O’Briain. 087 9189729 Miriam Murphy. 087 754 5568

author by Fpublication date Thu Feb 19, 2004 22:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good initiative.

And a DAPSE article I could actually read and understand !

We want more.

author by ecpublication date Fri Feb 20, 2004 17:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Press statement Embargoed 13.00, Friday February 20  

Another Europe is Possible  

Protest at Dublin Castle 13.00, Friday February 20  

Challenge priorities of the EU says campaign Alliance.  

Speakers include:
Bill McCamley, SIPTU Dublin Bus; Eamon Ryan TD; Conall O'Caoimh, Dóchas; Jo Tully INO (personal capacity); Joan Collins, Anti Bin-Tax Campaign; Eddie Conlon, TUI (personal capacity); Rita Fagan, St. Michaels Community Support Centre; Paul Dillon, President UCD-SU.

  The ‘Another Europe is Possible’ alliance is outside Dublin Castle today to challenge the priorities of the EU. The secret discussions at today’s Article 133 Committee meeting are about plans to make European business more profitable, whatever the social cost.  

With profits from manufacturing at a low ebb, big business wants to get into public services. Essential services like public transport, health, education, social housing, water and waste disposal can be turned into business opportunities – with guaranteed incomes and big profits. This is what the EU’s drive to ‘liberalise’ is all about. And the draft EU Constitution, which would make privatisation of health and education much easier, would put this neo-liberalism at the heart of EU law.  

The EU’s intention is to create the conditions for big companies take over and run public services, both in Europe and in developing countries – where the effects can be disastrous. We call for the needs of ordinary people to be the priority, not the profits of big business.  

INO Shop Steward Jo Tully highlighted the risks to the health service:  

“The  present A&E and hospital stay-per-night charges, unaffordable GP fees and medication costs, and VHI premium increases are a glimpse of what is to come.  The Government has made clear its intention to privatise the VHI, making it a straight for-profit commercial insurance company. Premiums WILL rocket. We are facing an American model of Health Service - 'if you can pay you get, if you can't you die', which will be made possible by the new draft Constitution for Europe.”  

Eamon Ryan challenged the secrecy surrounding the Article 133 Committee, saying:  

"We cannot tolerate secretive trade negotiations being carried out on behalf of the Irish State, with no democratic accountability to the Oireachtas, or to the public at large. I am calling on the Government to publish the documents and proposals it is presenting in our name here today"  

Bill McCamley argued against Irish and EU privatisation policies:  

“The EU is implementing a neo-liberal agenda of privatisation. In Ireland the manifestation of that is in the governments attempts to break up CIE and privatise Dublin Bus. SIPTU Dublin Bus branch opposes the privatisation of our services and will take action to defend our workers’ conditions and the services for the public.”  

Arguing that trade rules should not harm the poor, Conall O'Caoimh said:  

"Transparency on trade policy is essential to ensure that trade rules are not weighted against the poor. To benefit from foreign investment, developing countries must have the power to require investors to link into the local economy. Yet in the current WTO negotiations, the EU is seeking to take this right away from many developing countries. This pressure would be less likely if the European Parliament had the power to influence what the EU looks for in world trade talks."  

Commenting on the charges that come with privatisation, Joan Collins said:  

“The Anti-Bin Tax Campaign is well aware that privatisation is on the agenda, and it is a key part of our campaign. Many bin collection services around the country have already been privatized, with huge increases in charges.”  

Eddie Conlon argued that EU policy would put the quality of education at risk, saying:  

“I have no doubt that privatising education services will have a detrimental effect on the quality of education. The use of PPP will divert badly needed funds into the pockets of private investors. It will be very difficult to fight further privatisation in Ireland if the EU agrees to open trade in education services.”  

Challenging recent suggestions that Irish universities should be let go private, Paul Dillon added:  

" The Students Union In UCD is strongly opposed to any suggestion that the our Universities should be privatised. The Student Movement needs demand that our Education System is properly funded by the government and this is the goal that we will work towards. Furthermore, we oppose the ideological agenda which says that essential public services should be run by the private sector"  

Quotes end.  

For information / comment from Another Europe is Possible, contact:  

Rory Hearne  086 152 3542                Brendan Young  085 713 1903  

For further comment:
Bill McCamley 087 906 6461  Conall O'Caoimh  4053802  Paul Dillon, 087  685 9446  Joan Collins 087 775 8942  Rita Fagan 4533938  Eamon Ryan 6183333.

Jo Tully and Eddie Conlon can be contacted via Brendan Young.

author by Franz Stummann - AERpublication date Tue Feb 24, 2004 20:35author email f.stummann at a-e-r dot orgauthor address author phone 0033388227447Report this post to the editors

Congratulation to DAPSE , above all to Brendan Young and all collaborators for the action at Dublin castle on GATS. At least we know by now that the members of the 133 Committee are real persons and that they have real meetings, although it is obviously rather difficult to establish their identity. With all the secrecy around this EU-Institution I got more and more the impression the Committee is just virtual and therefore protests are just in vain. Let's hope that following the letter by courageous TD's and MEP's we will be enlightened by the Irish Government.

author by ec - 1 of Indymedia Irelandpublication date Tue Feb 24, 2004 21:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here are the irish members and their Phone numbers - They will not spill the beans however and think it laughable the idea that they should.

Irish Representatives on Article 133 Committee:

Tony Joyce (01) 6312543 - Dublin

Eugene Forde (00) 322 2308580 - Brussels

 
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