The European Services Forum represents the European services sectors’ interests towards international stakeholders and decision makers.
Over the years, ESF has been recognised by relevant stakeholders active in international trade policy as the voice of the European service industries. Initially, ESF’s mandate was to support the WTO’s services negotiations (GATS negotiations). Now, it also covers the negotiations on EU bilateral agreements with EU trading partners in third countries. To promote the organisation’s goals, ESF’s activities include:
- Engaging in direct dialogue with key decisionmakers
To achieve its objectives, the European Services Forum closely collaborates with international organisations that represent service industries in the developed and the developing world. The Forum is a member of the Global Services Coalition. Therefore, it is not only able to speak as a single voice for the European services industries but also to promote its views on a broader international basis.
ESF is a member of the European Commission DG Trade’s Civil Society Contact Group. This enables the organisation to engage on a regular basis in a well-regulated dialogue with key decision makers in Brussels, and to discuss concerns and issues at stake with further EU trade policy stakeholders.
ESF is involved in the Market Access Advisory Committee work, participates in the European Commission’s Civil Society Dialogue Meetings, and is a member of the DG Trade’s Contact Group. ESF has also developed links with the WTO secretariat, and increasingly monitors the European Parliament’s work related to trade policy.
- Issuing position papers
To highlight the European services sectors’ stakes in international trade in services, ESF adopted a large number of position papers. ESF adopted a policy statement for each of the WTO Ministerial conferences, and called only recently for a rapid conclusion of the EU-Korea FTA.
The recipients of ESF’s position papers include, if appropriate, the European Commissioner for Trade, the European Commission’s DG Trade and other relevant Directorates, the EU trade Ministers and their representatives to the EU’s 133 Committee, the WTO Director-General and the relevant divisions in the WTO Secretariat, many WTO members, trade ministers and their delegations to the WTO. In other words, these papers address the major European interlocutors involved in international trade policy-making. Moreover, they are directly sent to the members of the Global Services Network (GSN).
ESF’s position papers are usually made publicly accessible on the ESF and the WTO websites.
- Issuing press releases
To raise public awareness, ESF issues press releases on topics related to its activites whenever appropriate.
- Participating in conferences
To present the views of the European services sector, ESF participates in various conferences in and outside of Brussels. Presentations and speeches are mainly held during conferences including each WTO Ministerial conference.
The European Services Forum was a registered NGO at the WTO Ministerial Conferences in Seattle (USA) in December 1999, Doha (Qatar) in November 2001, Cancun (Mexico) in September 2003 and Hong Kong (Hong Kong -China) in December 2005, and was also an official member of the European Union delegation during these conferences.