Joint Proposals by Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC) and Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA)
Second Dialogue Forum between the Civil Societies and Government Institutions of Mexico and the European Union
Mexico City, 28 February-1 March 2005
Evaluation and Perspectives on the Mexico-EU Free Trade Agreement
We, the organisations of the Mexican and European civil societies, members of the RMALC and CIFCA networks, consider that the Agreement between Mexico and the European Union promotes development models that do not meet the peoples' basic needs. Five years after the Agreement came into force, we can assert that it poses a plethora of questions on all levels - economic, political and cooperation.
In the European context, this kind of agreement has a negative impact on social and environmental legislation. While the discourse, in theory, promotes social cohesion, by fostering neoliberal policies the Agreement worsens, in practice, the quality of life of wide sectors of society, who are witnessing the privatisation of basic services, the dismantling of social security, the diversion of social budgets towards security and defence priorities, the abuse of fundamental rights of citizens, migrants and refugees, as well as the privatisation of the political sphere by the technocracies serving the interests of transnationals without popular participation.
The European and Mexican civil societies are still excluded from the political dialogue scene concerning the Agreement, since no permanent and effective mechanisms have been established for this purpose between these societies and the authorities.
In the Mexican context, we have witnessed the following:
- The Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) and the modifications in national laws have led to deep changes in the country's financial system and to its ineffectiveness as a key instrument of domestic development policies. These facts have weakened and damaged the actual capacity of the Mexican State to orientate the country's development according to its people's interests.
- The Agreement and the lack of a genuine domestic development policy have contributed to the widening of trade asymmetries between Mexico and European countries, mainly favouring large European companies and deepening the deficit in the Mexican balance of trade. Another worrying question in recent years has been the European pressure on the Mexican government concerning the opening offers on at least 14 service sectors. Despite the fact that the WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) establishes that governments are to voluntarily decide whether or not they liberalise certain service areas, the UE keeps insisting on Mexico to open-up power, education, water and 11 additional sectors.
It is also feared that the Agreement will have its worst impact on agriculture, which will be -as happened with the NAFTA- wide open to free trade in 2007. Although Mexico will enjoy a tariff phaseout for certain sensitive products, the agreed period (2000-2007) is too short for Mexico to develop an agrarian policy that allows small producers to access the markets.
- Four years and a half have gone by without the inclusion of specific mechanisms to give operating capacity and a legally binding status to the content of the democratic clause, nor to guarantee its positive dimension.
- In almost five years, the Mexican government has only not built a cooperation policy, but has actually been unable to effectively take advantage of the opportunities given by European policies. Obviously, these policies were created to primarily serve European interests, but they include certain areas that could benefit the interest of the Mexican State and society.
On the basis of this reality, the Mexican and European civil societies propose a GENUINE AGREEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT based on the acknowledgement of the asymmetries and regulations of economy, preventing the free action of market forces and seeking to strengthen national states as the guarantors of respect and promotion of human rights, especially vis-à-vis transnationals. In this sense, the States parties of this Agreement could take a first step by supporting the standards on Responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights set by the United Nations Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in August 2003. This involves revising the Free Trade Agreement Mexico-EU and the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs).
- The Mexican government and the European Union must make as soon as possible a strong commitment to foster democratic and open mechanisms for the involvement of all social sectors, as established by the Global Agreement, in the consultation dynamics on the work of the Joint Council. We are waiting for an answer on the proposal we put forward at the first Forum on the creation of a Mixed Consultative Committee.
- We support the establishment in Mexico of an Economic and Social Council, and a wider participation of all sectors of civil society in the European Economic and Social Committee. In both cases, councils must be independent and subject to compulsory consultation with a wide, all-embracing and plural participation.
- The Mexican executive must urgently deal with the demand made by lawmakers and wide civil society groups not to promote the signing of Multiple Service Contracts with foreign investors in areas where the Constitution does not provide for foreign involvement. The European counterpart must take the appropriate measures so that foreign investors in high-risk legal areas do not have false hopes.
- The European and Mexican governments must resist the pressure of transnationals promoted by the European Commission to open or further liberalise service areas and other areas in the Mexican and European economies, such as water, power and telecommunications.
- The Mexican government and the European Union must promote the appropriate rules so that the democratic clause becomes operative and accountable, both in Mexico and Europe, to ensure the respect of human rights, especially with regards to the impact of trade and investments. We believe in the primacy of human rights, according to article 103 of the United Nations Charter, consider that the main responsibility of any state is to promote and protect human rights, not trade rights.
- In this sense, Mexican and European authorities must urgently deal with a number of cases on human rights violations. The case, for example, of those arrested in Guadalajara during the Summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America & the Caribbean and the European Union in May 2004, and several abuses against the rights of indigenous peoples, especially those caused by European investors or by the European Union cooperation.
- The European and Mexican governments must launch without any further delay wide and all-embracing initiatives for all citizens and peoples to define cooperation policies between Europe and Mexico, taking into account the experiences of civil society organisations.
- The European and Mexican authorities must hear the demand made by social and civil organisations, both Mexican and European, to evaluate the impact and sustainability of the investments and trade by the States parts in the Agreement.
On the Defence of a Genuine Dialogue: Stop the Sham
The undersigned Mexican and European organisations, on the occasion of the Second Dialogue Forum between the Civil Societies and Government Institutions of Mexico and the European Union, taking place from 28 February to 1 March 2005, declare:
- Organised expressions of the Mexican and European civil societies have worked together for several years in order to strengthen our ties in the defence of democratic principles, human rights, peoples rights and sustainable development, fostering alternatives to neoliberal globalisation, as well as to guarantee effective mechanisms for civil society involvement.
We have worked together and put forward proposals to achieve real participation and dialogue mechanisms with the authorities in the framework of the implementation of the Global Agreement Mexico-EU. Despite the efforts, trade interests have so far prevailed over human rights, freedom and democracy.
- The proposals from the first Forum in Brussels, on 26 November 2002, put forward to the Joint Council and the Joint Committee of the Agreement have remained unanswered. The Global Agreement was modified to include 10 new countries from the EU but, despite this, the occasion was not used to establish the Mixed Consultative Committee we have repeatedly proposed.
- The commitments undertaken by the Preparatory Committee of the Mexican and European civil societies have not been respected by the Mexican government in order to ensure a significant dialogue.
- The call to this forum has been very restricted, and it has been limited to electronic media. The list of participants and speeches, despite the commitment to do so, has not been published in the web page of the Foreign Secretary department. There is a lack of equity in presentations and the Mexican government is imposing its own terms.
- There are fundamental authors from the Mexican nation and indigenous peoples who are not taking part in this Forum because the Mexican State has abused their rights and has not met agreements such as those of San Andrés and the ILO Convention 169. Furthermore, there has been no consultation process concerning the implementation of mega-projects such as Plan Puebla Panamá, the dispossession of their territories and the systematic repression against its communities, organisations and representatives, particularly in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, San Luis Potosí, and other. There are indigenous political prisoners and arrest warrants against leaders of their organisations, like the cases of COMPA, CIPO, SAN JUAN LALANA, FCH, CCU, SAN BLAS ATEMPA, and other.
- There can be no talks on genuine participation and dialogue while during the Summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America & the Caribbean and the European Union the federal government and the Jalisco state government undertook arbitrary arrests, mistreatment, tortures, and expelled 8 foreigners. There are still 49 abusive judicial processes pending and 5 young people are still held in jail.
- There can be no talks on genuine participation and dialogue while feminicide, violence and discrimination against women persist in many Mexican regions, as happens in Ciudad Juárez, Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and other. There is still impunity on the past and present practice of torture and other serious violations of human rights.
- We therefore demand the following:
- To foster a genuine agreement for sustainable development, abolishing or revising the current Free Trade Agreement Mexico-EU and the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.
- The Mexican government and the EU must adopt as soon as possible specific mechanisms for real participation of all civil organisations, communities and indigenous peoples from both parts.
- The Mexican government must not promote the signing of Multiple Service Contracts with foreign investors in sensitive areas where the Constitution does not provide for foreign involvement. The European and Mexican governments must resist the pressure of transnationals promoted by the European Commission to open or further liberalise service areas such as water, power and telecommunications.
- The Mexican government and the European Union must adopt the appropriate rules so that the democratic clause becomes operative and accountable, both in Mexico and Europe, to ensure the respect of human rights, especially with regards to the impact of trade and investments.
- We demand from the Mexican government and the EU the development a cooperation policy that takes into account the beneficiaries throughout the whole process: formulation, impact study, implementation and monitoring.
- Social and environmental sustainability impact studies must be carried out in the framework of bilateral investments and trade.
We demand a respectful and significant dialogue that meets the needs and proposals of the Mexican and European civil societies with concrete facts.
We do not want a sham dialogue. We ask, on the contrary, for a genuine dialogue that leads to beneficial agreements for our peoples.
Mexico City, 27 February 2005
- Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)
- Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA)
- Transnational Institute (TNI), The Netherlands
- Centre National de Coopération au Développement, Belgium
- Fonds pour la Coopération au Développement, Belgium
- Mani Tese, Italy
- Federación de asociaciones de defensa y promoción de los derechos humanos, Spain
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- Red de Género y Economía