Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Trade, has stated categorically that the UK’s National Health Service will not be threatened by the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), adding it would be a “disaster” for the EU and the UK if the latter voted to leave.
Speaking at a fiery public consultation on TTIP at Europe House in London the Commissioner sought to allay fears the adoption of a Free Trade Agreement with the US would lead to widespread privatisation in the NHS.
“Health services will not be affected by TTIP,” said Malmström adding the US never sought to include public services in their trade deals and would not be doing so this time.
“TTIP will not hinder EU member states ability to run their public services…nothing will prevent outsourced services being brought back into public ownership.”
“I am convinced TTIP will benefit the UK and its economy,” said Malmström.
The sentiment was echoed by Lord Livingston, a Conservative Minister for Trade and Investment. “Outsourcing public services is a decision for democratically elected governments to decide upon. TTIP will not enforce this.”
Investor-State Dispute Settlements
EU member states have individual ISDS laws in place with the US and each other. Concerns have been raised that large companies could sue governments over changes in regulation.
Campaigners often cite the ongoing case brought by tobacco giant Philip Morris against the Australian government over the issue of the plain packaging of cigarettes.
Malmström said negotiations had focused on creating a reformed and limited ISDS that could act as a gold standard. Moves had already been made to prevent companies claiming against loss of future earning and the changing of government regulation.
Malmström confirmed talks over Investor-State Dispute Settlements were currently “frozen”.
Also speaking at the event, David Martin, Labour MEP (Socialists and Democrats) said he would fight to have ISDS removed from any final TTIP deal. “We should trust each other’s legal systems and not have the need for secret tribunals,” he said.
Speaking earlier in the day UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said he disliked “the level of secrecy that has surrounded the transatlantic trade deal so far”.
Both Malmström and Lord Livingston said they thought the negotiations had been the most transparent negotiations ever conducted. Lording Livingston admitted more could be done, and called for the publications of all documents that wouldn’t directly harm negotiations.
The British government stated that TTIP could add £10bn to the UK economy, £80bn to the US and £100bn to the EU every year.
Negotiations between the United States and the European Union to forge an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) started in July 2013.
If successful, the deal would cover more than 40% of global GDP and account for large shares of world trade and foreign direct investment.
The EU-US trade relationship is already the biggest in the world. Traded goods and services between the two partners are worth €2 billion daily.
Brussels and Washington have set an ambitious goal of completing negotiations by the end of 2015.
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