European Services Forum

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"The European Services Forum (ESF) is a network of representatives from the European services sector. We are committed to actively promoting the interests of the European services sector and the liberalisation of services markets throughout the world in connection with the GATS 2000 negotiations."

The ESF was formed in 1998 (originally called the European Services Network) to provide private sector advice and information directly to the EU’s WTO negotiators. Its formation was supported by CEOs of leading European corporations and federations as well as Europe’s major employer association UNICE. British Invisibles was a ‘prominent member’. So too were companies that have benefited from privatization of services such as the giant water companies Suez and Vivendi/Veolia. [1]

Andrew Buxton was the first chair of the ESF. According to ESF Managing Director, Pascal Kerneis, ‘the European industry understood that it was important to work together in order to exchange information and to defend global European service industries positions.’[2]

Buxton used the same structure for the ESF as he did for the Financial Leaders Group: a European Service Leaders Group (ESLG) which includes the CEOs of more than 40 companies and a Policy Committee which includes 39 service industry federations covering 20 service sectors, UNICE and representatives of the CEOs in the Leaders Group. Both were supported by a secretariat hosted by UNICE. The Leaders Group provides the high public profile and muscle. The Policy committee formulates policy and carries out ESF activities, and the secretariat services both groups.[3]

ESF is an official member of the EU delegation at WTO conferences, as well as being a registered NGO at the same conferences. It produces position papers on various aspects of services liberalization that are distributed to EC officials and negotiators and EC officials attend ESF Policy Committee meetings, where these papers are discussed.[4] Also it is apparent that the EC not only played a role in setting up the ESF but that it has also ‘actively sought ESF guidance in formulating its GATS negotiating positions’ and even, according to Wesselius, ‘prioritised’ that advice over that of member states.[5]

The European Services Forum now comprises 75 Members.

List Of Members

  • Accenture
  • Architects Council Of Europe - ACE
  • Association Of Commercial Television - ACT
  • ARD
  • AXA Group
  • Barclays PLC
  • British Telecommunications
  • BFB
  • Confederation Of British Industry
  • CCBE
  • CEA
  • Clifford Chance LLP
  • CNUE
  • CLGE
  • Commerz Bank AG
  • Deutsch TeleKom AG
  • DHL Worldwide Express
  • EDS
  • Ernst & Young
  • And many more [6]



  1. Sharon Beder, Suiting Themselves: How Corporations Drive the Global Agenda, Earthscan, London, 2006, pp.140-1.
  2. Pascal Kerneis, 'The Perspective of the European Private Sector in the GATS Negotiations', Paper presented at the Regional Seminar on Services: ASEAN, Bangkok, Thailand, 27 June, 2000, p. 4.
  3. Sharon Beder, Suiting Themselves, p.141.
  4. Sharon Beder, Suiting Themselves, pp.140-1.
  5. Erik Wesselius, ‘Behind GATS 2000: Corporate Power at Work’, Amsterdam, Transnational Institute, May 2002
  6. European Services Forum