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Nice and the corporate agenda: The changes to article 133

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Wednesday October 16, 2002 11:04author by Libertarians against Nice Report this post to the editors

One notable feature of this Nice referendum is that for the first time corporations are openly involved in calling for a Yes vote. There has been almost no discussion of why these bodies are taking such a prominent position by the media

Press Release - Oct/16/2002
Libertarians against Nice

Nice and the corporate agenda: The changes to article 133


Nice and the corporate agenda: The changes to article 133

One notable feature of this Nice referendum is that for the first time corporations are openly involved in calling for a Yes vote. The short walk in Dublin city from Grafton Street to O' Connell street reveals posters from IBEC, IFSC and the Construction Industry Federation. The Small Firms Association also came out for a yes vote. There has been almost no discussion of why these bodies are taking such a prominent position by the media, instead we are to believe that they are concerned for the workers of Eastern Europe.

The reasons are found in the changes made by the Nice treaty to Article 133 of the Treaty of the European Union. Despite the efforts of many Anti Nice campaigners to get discussion of these changes into the Nice debate the media has refused to cover them, perhaps the fact that much of the media is also corporate owned is not irrelevant here. The referendum commission has also failed to inform Irish voters of this issue despite a picket on their offices by NGO's. So what is being hidden?

The World Trade Organisation admitted the importance to it of the changes to Article 133 in it's June 2002 'Trade Policy Review of the European Union' in writing "Of particular significance to the WTO is the exclusive Community competence that would apply to negotiations of agreements that concern services (with certain exceptions), and the commercial aspects of intellectual property rights upon ratification by all Member States of the Treaty of Nice."[i]

The changes to Article 133 will mean that the EU Council and Commission will be responsible for the negotiation of trade deals rather then the national governments of the EU. Why would the WTO be keen on this? Perhaps one clue is found in the Seattle talks where "without consulting and over the objections of civil society and EU member states, the European Commission announced its support for a Biotechnology Working Party, causing 15 EU trade ministers to issue a joint statement of disagreement"[ii].

The new paragraph 5 confirms the suspicion that the WTO is one of the "international organisations" that the EU commission will be able to make agreements with as it makes it explicit that these provisions "shall also apply to the negotiation and conclusion of agreements in the fields of trade in services and the commercial aspects of intellectual property". These lay at the heart of the Seattle round of WTO talks. Services in this context includes essential public utilities such as water delivery and electricity generation and supply, in fact over 160 services have been named by the WTO. Services also include postal services, finance and banking, and telecommunications services. The WTO agenda is to force privatisation of such sectors in particular by prohibiting public funding or subsidies for them. And there is big money to be made by the corporations here. In 2000 it was estimated that "Global expenditures on water services now exceed $1 trillion every year"[iii].

The Intellectual Property referred to in Article 133 is not just the copyright of books and records. It is also the patents owned by the super profitable drug corporations. The WTO grants them a global 20-year monopoly over the drugs, which they develop, and provides for trade sanctions against any country which doesn't protect this monopoly. Just before the last Nice referendum they attempted to use their 'Intellectual Property rights' to stop the import of cheap anti AIDS drugs into Africa. They backed down, for the moment, and in that case alone, due to the public outcry and the fact that the documents they would have had to produce in court would have revealed the scale of their profits to an already hostile public.

The attempt by the drug companies to do this was deeply unpopular in Ireland. But 'qualified majority' would have allowed the Irish government to publicly oppose the drug company agenda only to be outvoted at the EU council and then be part of implementing sanctions against these countries. In recent years the government has become increasingly adept at the tactic of saying one thing to NGO's or for public consumption before implementing quite contradictory policies. The Intellectual Property provisions might also mean in the future that medical companies would win the 'right' to buy patient related databases off hospitals.

Andrew Flood of Libertarians Against Nice said
"There is a corporate agenda of privatisation buried in the Nice treaty in the changes to Article 133. This is why corporations based in Ireland are arguing so hard for the treaty - they recognise that it promises them super profits. Ordinary Irish workers should beware when they see organisations like IBEC, the IFSC, the Small Firms Association and the Construction Industry Federation spending a lot of money in arguing for a Yes vote. We should look at what these same organisations have to say on issues like the minimum wage and compulsory redundancy payments. The Nice treaty is about creating a bosses Europe, we should therefor reject it".

--- ends --

More information on Nice and the Corporate Agenda at

Libertarians against Nice

i WTO Secretariat, June 2002 'Trade Policy Review of the European Union', online at http://europa.eu.int/comm/trade/wto_overview/index_en.htm
ii NGO STATEMENT ON WTO CRISIS IN SEATTLE:A CALL FOR CHANGE, 2 DECEMBER 1999, a copy is online at http://lists.essential.org/random-bits/msg00207.html
iii http://www.canadians.org/campaigns/campaigns-tradepub-gats_primer.html

Related Link: http://more.at/stopnice

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   obviously misguided     vert-et-noir    Wed Oct 16, 2002 11:33 
   Of course it's not in the treaty     dataflow    Wed Oct 16, 2002 12:02 
   Latest No attack is much ado about nothing     some biased hack    Wed Oct 16, 2002 12:06 
   Err it IS in the treaty     Andrew    Wed Oct 16, 2002 12:15 
   Weird     Andrew    Wed Oct 16, 2002 15:04 
   There is a sustained attempt by the Irish Times to ignore 133     Phuq Hedd    Wed Oct 16, 2002 16:08 
   Clarification     Phuq Hedd    Wed Oct 16, 2002 16:11 
   Something happening     Andrew    Wed Oct 16, 2002 16:39 
   Sneek preeview (news alwas on IMC First)     in the heat of debate    Wed Oct 16, 2002 20:42 
 10   Excellent     Phuq Hedd    Thu Oct 17, 2002 05:37 
 11   Has anyone seen the IT?     Ray    Thu Oct 17, 2002 10:06 
 12   Uncut but Changed Headline     Eamonn Crudden    Thu Oct 17, 2002 10:56 

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