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Sinn Féin slams the "shameless and unrelenting drive towards privatisation of essential services in the EU"

26 March, 2004

Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald has today expressed concern regarding a proposal to create a new European Commission Vice-President for 'Competitiveness' within the EU.

Concerns have arisen in many quarters, after Bertie Ahern, through the EU Presidency, and EU Commission President Romano Prodi met with business and trade union leaders yesterday (25.03.04), to forge ahead on ambitious economic goals for the EU.

Speaking in relation to today's meeting of the European Council, Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin has consistently called for the protection of our public services from the shameless and unrelenting drive towards privatisation of

essential services in the EU. The proposals to create a Vice-President for Competitiveness are extremely worrying, not least for those workers employed within the public sector. The European Trade Union Movement has also expressed concerns over these proposals.

"A Vice-President for Competitiveness would undoubtedly have a complete bias in favour of big business and industry, at the expense of the social and environmental agenda. I believe that such a proposal would elevate economic growth and competitiveness to a dangerous level motivated solely by profit, where our public services would effectively be run by private companies, carved up for the purpose of generating profit. Sinn Féin are not opposed to economic growth, we are opposed to attacks on our public services.

"And what of the Irish Government in all of this? The Taoiseach certainly seems to have no aversion to the creation of such a post, which could have serious implications for our education and health services. Mary Harney is also on record at the Forum on Europe, that the Progressive Democrats were opposed to having the national veto removed from our essential public services. Sinn Féin will provide that strong voice in Europe to ensure that they keep to their word.

"The Government of this state are not up to the fight of defending our public services, and are more concerned with forcing through the competitiveness agenda, whilst ignoring the social issues in the EU, where over 55 million people live in poverty.

"Sinn Féin is up for the fight of protecting our public services, and creating an alternative to the politics of privatisation within the EU."ENDS

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