EU hopes for Doha

November 11, 2005

The Times Higher examines the reactions to the international guidelines on transborder higher education

European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson is at the forefront of efforts to liberalise higher education and other services in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (Gats) in the weeks before the World Trade Organisation's resumed Doha talks, Keith Nuthall writes.

In an attempt to prevent critical negotiations on agriculture from stalling, Mr Mandelson has written to WTO director-general Pascal Lamy requesting a political agreement on Gats at the December 13-18 Hong Kong summit.

This, Mr Mandelson's Brussels spokesman told The Times Higher, would allow "the EU to have flexibility", adding that the talks cannot live or die on agriculture alone. "We need to see the talks advance in other areas, such as services and industrial goods."

A Gats deal in Hong Kong could open export markets in the US, Canada, Australia and Asia to EU higher education providers. It could also widen EU commitments to allow non-EU higher education providers to operate in Europe.

Mr Mandelson will be keen to gain new opportunities for EU service exports to placate member states such as France, which are hostile to further reductions in production subsidies, food tariffs and quotas.

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