'Winners and losers at Nice'
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 13:17:50 -0000

Letter in Today's Guardian from Colin Hines

'Winners and losers at Nice'

Big business was the only outright winner at Nice, but you'd never guess it from the oceans of coverage concentrating on the governmental antics there. (Tories left floundering by EU deal, December 12) Tony Blair's triumph of red lining tax in fact means that the UK can continue to be a low tax country. This allows firms based here to unfairly grab the market shares of European neighbours who choose the higher taxes needed for their superior health, education and pension systems.

Unanimity on tax will also mean that the Europe- wide energy tax increases, so crucial to effectively deal with climate change, will be easily overruled by any country rented by the oil industry. Finally the 'WTO mouthpiece in Europe' the European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has been given increased power to push his agenda for a new trade round, as more trade decisions pass out of national control.

Nice was supposed to make enlargement easier in order to benefit all Europe's citizens. Instead we have an enlargement of TNC control over European trade agenda, and continued carte blanche for their pressure to curb Europe's tax base - and its social provision. The far right across the continent must be licking its lips.

Colin Hines.