G8: Left MEPs demand "Basic rights before free trade"

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Speaking out against public private partnerships and the notion that privatisation is necessary in order to spur growth and efficiency, Sahra Wagenknecht MEP for the German Die Linke (Left party) opened the European Parliament United European Left group's (GUE/NGL)day of activities at the G8 alter-summit in Rostock .

“Rather than improving services and reducing costs, privatisation repeatedly has the opposite effect. We see this deterioration especially in the water, energy and public transport sectors where former public companies throughout the world have been sacrificed in the name of competitiveness,” she said at a discussion event hosted by the GUE/NGL entitled “Alternatives to global corporate Europe ”.

Guests and participants from all over Europe and the world took part in the debate, among them Rosa Guillen, a social and feminist activist from Peru who highlighted the problems caused by continental free trade agreements for Latin American people. “Privatisation clearly benefits transnational corporations to the detriment of communities,” she said.

President of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, German Left MEP Helmuth Markov criticised the EU’s new international trade policy that is prioritising market interests and reducing environmental, labour and social standards across whole continents. “We must try to stop the aggressive operation of WTO rules and intensify our campaigns against EU trade policy in order to advance fair solutions and social justice,” he said.

Salissou Obandoma from Niger's National Debt and Development Network spoke in the debate on EU-Africa relations about economic partnership agreements (EPAs) and their consequences for African countries. Contributing to the same discussion, Italian GUE/NGL MEP Vittorio Agnoletto attacked the hypocrisy of the G8 leaders who continuously make and break promises especially on poverty and AIDS in Africa saying “if we analyse their promises, we see nothing but lies, so much of so called ‘development aid’ from the EU is made up of ‘false aid’ with countries massaging figures to give the impression that real progress is being made”.

The GUE/NGL group took part in the opening demonstration on Saturday and will be organising and participating in the alter-summit throughout this week. Commenting on the management of Saturday’s demonstration, German Left MEP Gabi Zimmer strongly condemned the violence from the police and a small minority in the crowd. “If a police helicopter is hovering only 50 metres above the crowd and forces people to take cover one cannot talk about a strategy of de-escalation of tension. It also does not help to calm the situation when riot police continuously storm through crowds of peaceful protesters. Together with many citizens we will continue to protest peacefully and criticise the neoliberal globalisation policy of the heads of state of the G8. We will not be stopped by violent groups or the security policy of the police, which is suspicious of any protest.”