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Business summit used to push India-FTA

Brussels – As business leaders meet for the EU-India business summit in Brussels this week, a report by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) revealed today that the EU Commission is using the event to actively orchestrate big business support for the EU-India free trade agreement, despite criticism from small businesses and people’s movements [1]. This week’s EU-India official summit and a parallel business gathering are expected to give negotiations a push towards conclusion.

According to internal Commission information revealed by CEO, the EU Commission has been actively involved in setting up the EU-India business summit, which will provide a platform for big business to lobby for the more controversial elements in the trade deal. It has provided millions of Euros from its development fund to facilitate this process.

Campaigners have repeatedly warned that the planned EU-India free trade deal will destroy lives and livelihoods, with many of India’s poorest particularly at risk [2]. Demonstrations are planned outside the National Parliament in Delhi this week. Several chambers of commerce representing small and medium enterprises in India have backed a call for a halt to the free trade negotiations [3]. Last week, MEPs echoed their concerns in a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht [4].

Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory said:

“The Commission is falling over itself to get big business support its own big business agenda – and refuses to listen to the very real concerns being raised by small businesses, workers and Parliamentarians both here and in India. But the Commission is riding roughshod over livelihoods, workers’ rights and environmental protection in its enthusiasm to do a deal.”

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and India FDI Watch have today also launched an online animation about the role of big business lobbying in the EU-India trade negotiations and the impact of the proposed deal [5].

Dharmendra Kumar, director of India FDI Watch, said:

“The European Union and India are busy finalising free trade negotiations which are driven solely by corporate interests – and which show complete disregard for the economic chaos already created by the deregulation craze of the past. This agreement will bring disaster for people’s lives, livelihoods and the environment. It must be stopped and our trade policy democratised.”

Contact:
Pia Eberhardt, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), pia[at]corporateeurope.org

Notes
[1] Corporate Europe Observatory (2010): Caught in the act of reverse lobbying. EU Commission uses EU-India business summit and development funds to back its own big business agenda, http://www.corporateeurope.org/news/caught-act-reverse-lobbying

[2] See, for example: Corporate Europe Observatory/ India FDI Watch (2010): Trade Invaders. How big business is driving the EU-India free trade negotiations, http://www.corporateeurope.org/publications/eu-india-trade-invaders

[3] Last chance to prevent onslaught on people’s rights and livelihoods! Indian and European civil society groups call for an immediate halt to the India-EU trade negotiations, 5 October 2010, http://www.corporateeurope.org/call-halt-eu-india-fta-talks

[4] Letter to Karel de Gucht, EU-India Summit and EU-India FTA negotiations, 1st December 2010.

[5] http://www.vimeo.com/17514986

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