EU barriers to state ownership do exist | Letters

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The Single Market Act has given rightwing governments carte blanche to sit back and watch millions of people lose their livelihoods, writes Ian MacKillop. But Nick Dearden cautions against stepping away from the EU and towards the US

Polly Toynbee (Labour should exploit the Tories’ disarray on Europe, not copy it, 25 June) claims it is wrong to suggest the EU prevents state ownership and gives as an example how European rail networks remain state-owned; she should have added “for now”. The market pillar of the fourth rail package, as agreed in April 2016, mandates “more competition and performance targets for public service contracts, so as to improve cost-efficiency and get better value for money for taxpayers”, which sounds wearingly familiar. And with 2020 as the target date.

Given that the EU court of justice has deliberated that article 106 of the Single Market Act – the one prohibiting renationalisation – gives private companies the right to argue before their national courts that services must remain open to private-sector competition, it is hard to see any wriggle room there when Jeremy Corbyn seeks to implement his manifesto.

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