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(en) Ireland: (LAN) Students' campus campaign against Nice treaty

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 7 Oct 2002 09:12:26 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> From: "Andrew" <andy@dojo.tao.ca>
Ireland: (LAN) Students' campus campaign against Nice treaty

Press Release - Oct/7/2002 
Libertarians against Nice
Students start campus campaign against Nice treaty

Third Level Students involved in Libertarians 
Against Nice are set to step up their on-campus 
campaign against the up-coming referendum, with 
mass leafleting of the student body and 
postering of the campuses. Libertarians Against 
Nice now have a presence in University College 
Dublin and in The National University of Ireland 
Galway. Successive governments have effectively 
disenfranchised students by holding referendums 
and elections on week days, making it extremely 
difficult for students go home to vote. However, 
the upcoming Nice Referendum, taking place on a 
Saturday, provides a valuable opportunity for 
students to express their view on what way 
Europe should go. As the basis of their 
campaign, the students involved in Libertarians 
Against Nice, will be focusing on the effects 
the amendment to Article 133 will have on the 
future path education will take. 

The Nice Treaty sets out a program of 
'harmonisation' i.e. that the policies of all 
E.U. states should be the same, in matters of 
'liberalisation' which is the polite way of 
saying privatisation. The E.U. is committed to 
the introduction of GATS, the General Agreement 
on Trade in Services, which is the long way of 
saying privatisation. Under the World Trade 
Organisation's GATS treaty, practices which 
'discriminate' against foreign businesses in 
favour of native companies (including the state 
owned public sector) are outlawed, this can 
include, in the context of third level 
education, grants, free fees and any state 
subsidy to universities or colleges (if they are 
not equally applicable to all private 
education). To privatise a public service, first 
of all it's got to be making a profit, to 
attract investment, so you have to have people 
paying for it. Privatisation, in order to turn a 
profit, attract investment, and compete in the 
market place, makes for increased costs for the 
consumer (because the more money a company makes 
the more shares it can sell), and lower wages 
and worse working conditions for the worker. 

The Nice Treaty excludes, for the moment, E.U. 
wide 'harmonisation' in the privatisation of 
education, however it makes the E.U., rather 
than individual governments, responsible for 
negotiations with 'international organisations' 
i.e. the W.T.O. . Thus individual governments 
can hold their hands up and claim that they are 
being forced into introducing the W.T.O.'s 
privatisation assault. 

Its child is two tier services, with the capital 
of private investment being poured in to develop 
services that provide for whoever can pay for 
them while under-funded and over-crowded state 
owned service must provide for the rest. The Big 
business lobby group behind the E.U. is the 
European Round Table of Industrialists (E.R.T.) 
which includes among it's select elite the 
bosses of Unilever, Carlsberg, Fiat, Vodafone, 
Volvo, Philips, Nokia, Renault, Pirelli, and 
Shell, as well as those of the aforementioned BP 
and the Smurfit group. According to one of it's 
number, Gerhard Cromme, of the ThyssenKrupp 
corporation, there is a "culture of laziness" in 
"the European education system" where students 
"take liberties to pursue subjects not directly 
related to industry. Instead they are pursuing 
subjects which have no practical application" . 

As such it is a step forward in the E.U.'s and 
the W.T.O.'s education privatisation programme, 
and that is their goal, the EU's chief 
negotiator for GATS, Robert Madelin, describes 
the education sector as "ripe for 

James Redmond, a student in UCD said 

'This kind of liberalisation has already had a 
disastrous effect on education in countries like 
Spain and Italy. Instead of opening up the 
colleges, privatisation closes them further to 
the fast majority of society. Grants and 
subsidies to third level institutes have been 
slashed left, right and centre. Students are now 
forced to pay full tuition fees regardless of 
background. The financial obstacles already in 
place become magnified as new ones are added to 
the benefit of business, further hindering 
access to education. We recently fell victim to 
the governments attempts to pave the way to 
liberalisation with a 'reintroduction of fees 
through the back door' disguised as an increase 
in registration costs. If the Skilbeck Report 
issued by the Higher Educational Authority a 
number of months ago is anything to go by, we 
can expect attempts to scale back the grant as 
well as more links with industry. While French 
Students spray-painted 'Nike University' over 
the entrance to the Sorbonne in protest against 
privatisation, students here in UCD already 
graduate from the Smurfit School of Business and 
Tony O' Reilly Hall. Our Arts faculty was 
recently split in two to encourage a greater 
uptake of courses with a 'practical application' 
to business.' 

Terry, a student involved in the campaign in NUI 
Galway described how European Students have 
reacted to such moves by their government. 

"The liberalisation agenda, and resistance to 
it, has already hit the education systems across 
Europe. For instance, in May and June students 
across Germany went on strike, demonstrated, 
blocked roads and briefly occupied a TV station 
and the buildings of the ruling SPD party, in 
response to the introduction of fees for what 
was formerly free education. Likewise Spain has 
seen massive demonstrations, and the mass 
protests at E.U. Summits in Brussels (last 
December), and Seville (June) have had 'student 

After the manner in which the government binned 
the last rejection of Nice, the students 
involved in the Libertarians Against Nice don't 
think that a vote will stop attacks on 
education. Those students active in LAN see the 
only way to get anything or stop something is 
the sort of mass direct action described by the 
Galway student above. However as a first step, 
as a protest against the policies of the E.U., 
the Irish government and the World Trade 
Organisation, LAN Students will be concentrating 
on maximising the no vote on campuses across 

---- ends ---

Libertarians against Nice

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