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Just Because The Art. 133 Committee Doesn't Legally Exist Doesn't Mean It's Not After Your Services
'All These People Want is Everything' sez Wag
Those International trade deal-making privateers who orbit silently around the Article 133 Committee in Brussels have suffered a couple of serious setbacks in recent weeks. Firstly there was a conditional restoration of the Member States national veto on the privatisation / liberalisation of health and education in the final draft of the proposed EU constitution. Admittedly it is with the weasly insertion of a get out clause if a trade deal looks like it will cause a 'risk to the delivery of public services' in a member state.
We in our innocence had all thought semi-secret EU / WTO trade deals were not going to harm or affect our control over our public services one little iota. Mary Harney had 'reassured' us all on this front in 2002 and Ruairi Quinn backed Bertie up repeating the same line in the Dail in the days immediately preceding the Nice II referendum. Indymedia reported on their barefaced lies at the time. No-one else in the Irish mainstream media seemed to even notice or give a damn that this was happening.
Secondly, the Article 133 Committee which the privateers use as their in to the EU Commission, and which became the bete-noir of the left campaign against the Nice Treaty (II) might just turn out to be a legal black hole and is due a trip to the courts courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund over its legal standing / existence.
We knew already that the 133 Committee wouldn't say anything whatsoever about what they talk about in their meetings - even to the Parliamentarians of Member States - as 19 TD's, 2 MEPs and 5 MLA's found out last February. Their basic role is to negotiate between EU Member States on who will offer what for privatisation (cough) liberalisation in trade deals such as GATS between the EU and the World Trade Organisation. The price of the Bus Service, or Aer Lingus is commercially sensitive and so won't be released -at least not to us who own the things. Those who know what is good for the populations of EU member states are most likely also concerned at the reactions they might get if it came out in the open that they are trading away publicly owned services in secret closed door deals without a whiff of democratic oversight. A fait-accompli works better and the role of the 133 Committee is and was basically to do the groundwork for a never-ending series of such fait-accomplis.
The People in Government, in Corporate Lobby Groups such as LOTIS (Liberalisation Of Trade in Services) , and even in the Irish Civil Service who are trying to hand the Public Services owned by the citizenry of Ireland surreptitiously over wholesale to the Private Sector have the time to dot their i's and cross their t's and to follow the labyrinthine processes of International Trade Negotiations to their bitter ends. They also have names and addresses.
If Irish and European Activists are going to have any chance of effectively opposing them when they come gunning for the privatisation of Health, Education and Water then they need to get to grips with these complex issues and oppose the privateers at every junction in the labyrinth. Boredom is not an option. These people want our eyes to glaze over when we hear 'Lisbon' or 'liberalisation' or 'Article 133' or ‘GATS’. Let’s not give them what they want.
What they want is EVERYTHING which is why the anti-capitalist movement has since it’s inception consistently targeted the WTO and affiliated trade deals such as NAFTA and GATS in an attempt to bring such machinations out of the shadows where they thrive and into the light.
1.Detailed Background Information on Article 133 and GATS from the Article 133 Information Group. Includes the Phone Numbers of Irish Representatives on the Article 133 Committee. Give them a ring and let them know that just because you can’t look them in the eye does not mean you don’t see them.
Footnotes / References:
 The WTO (World Trade Organisation) is an intergovernmental body that deals with the global rules of trade between countries. Unlike the GATT agreement which dealt only with trade in goods, the agreements that govern the WTO deal with trade in goods, services and intellectual property. The WTO oversees the implementation of the trade agreements adopted by member states, serves as a forum for negotiation of revision of trade agreements and rules on trade disputes between member states.
 The GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) is a package of trade rules and tariff concessions negotiated between a number of capitalist countries that came into force in 1948. While a provisional agreement and an ad hoc organization, it provided the framework and rules for much of world trade until 1994 when it was replaced with the WTO.
 Peter Sutherland, Fine Gael party member was Attorney General of Ireland in the early 80s, European Commissioner for Ireland in the late 80s, Chairman of Allied Irish Banks and Director General of GATT in the early 90s and became the first Director General of the WTO when it was created.
 The Single European Act was the first major revision of the Treaties of Rome which bound the states of the then European Economic Community (EEC) together. It was signed in 1986 with the primary aim of creating a single market in Europe by removing trade barriers between member states.
 Bilateral Trade Deals are trading agreements made between two parties. Multilateral deals are deals agreed by a larger number of entities. Agreements made between the EU and the US are considered to be bilateral agreements as the EU acts as a single trading block.
 Community Trade Policy is decided according to Article 133 of the EC Treaty. The Article 133 Committee is a working group of the European Council, composed of representatives from each member who are accountable only to the their Minister for Trade. The Committee effectively sets the European Commission's trade policies and is the body that negotiates on behalf of the EU at the WTO. It is consulted by the Commission on trade matters which then acts upon recommendations made by the Article 133 Committee. Despite the importance of the impact of their decisions, all their deliberations are kept secret - even from elected MEPs with the result that there is no democratic accountability to EU citizens. The only information that is published for members of the public to read is the Agenda of their meetings which is chaired by the country currently holding the EU Presidency and published on their relevant website. In Ireland, the representative for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is one Tony Joyce. As a civil servant, he keeps a low profile and you're unlikely to come across his name mentioned very often in the mainstream media.
 QMV (Qualified Majority Voting) is a voting procedure employed in the Council of the European Union for ceratin decisions, under which each member state has a fixed (weighted) number of votes. Currently, about 71% of the votes have to be reached in order for the Council to adopt a decision. Each succesive revision of the EU treaties has extended QMV into more and more areas of decision making that previously would have required unamimity in order for changes to be made. This meant that each country had a veto and could block a proposed change. The rationale for more QMV is that as the EU grows in size with more countries joining, there's increased likelihood of any one country blocking desisions. However, the drawback for democracy is that the votes are cast in secret and a Minister can now vote for an unpopular measure and claim that he was outvoted by the other ministers.
 Changes to the Treaties on which the European Union is founded require the agreement of the governments of all the Member States. The process of Treaty changes happens at Intergovernmental Conference (or IGC). The recent draft European Consitution was developed in a series of such IGCs.