Public services to be left out of trans-Atlantic trade deal

11 Jul 14
The European Commission has pledged that public services will not be subject to increased competition in a planned trans-Atlantic trade deal, ahead of negotiations on the pact resuming today.

By Richard Johnstone | 14 July 2014

The European Commission has pledged that public services will not be subject to increased competition in a planned trans-Atlantic trade deal, ahead of negotiations on the pact resuming today.

In an announcement on Friday, the commission said governments would have three guarantees to protect public services, including health and education, if a deal to improve trade rules is reached. The Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations are intended to reach an agreement that would end the use of tariffs and trade barriers across a host of goods and services.

The pledge stated that any agreement would still leave EU government free to determine what they consider to be public services, and to regulate them as they see fit, including allowing them to be organised around one public-owned monopoly provider.

It also stated that ‘national treatment’ for publicly funded health and social services and education would allow EU member states to not provide equal treatment to companies or individuals from outside the EU.

Instead, governments can favour European firms over foreign ones and prevent foreign firms from providing, or investing in, a host of services if they choose. These include publicly funded education, healthcare and social services, and the supply of water.

These three guarantees on monopolies, regulation and ‘national treatment’ will apply, regardless of how the EU lists its commitments on services in trade agreements, the commission stated.

 

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