A positive signal: European Parliament calls for an exclusion of public services from TiSA and other future trade agreements

4 Feb 2016

Yesterday, the European Parliament's plenary adopted its own-initiative report on recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). The report calls to exclude public services from the agreement. CESI welcomes the report and hopes that the Commission will follow the recommendations of the European Parliament.

A positive signal: European Parliament calls for an exclusion of public services from TiSA and other future trade agreements

The report calls on the Commission to push, in the TiSA negotiations:
•  to exclude current and future services of general interest and services of general economic interest from the scope of application of TiSA, which “include, but are not limited to” water, health, social services, social security systems and education, waste management and public transport;
• to ensure that EU, national and local authorities retain the full right to “introduce, adopt, maintain or repeal any measures with regard to the commissioning, organisation, funding and provision of public services”; and
• to recognise the great importance attached by European citizens to high-quality public services.

MEPs call to exclude public services from TiSA

The report also calls for “an unequivocal ‘gold standard’ clause” which could be included in all trade agreements and would ensure that a public utilities clause applies to all services considered to be public services by European, national or regional authorities.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger: The Commission should follow the European Parliament’s views

CESI Secretary General Klau Heeger said: “I am particularly pleased that the report makes reference to an unequivocal gold standard clause on the protection of public services which is to be not only valid for TiSA but for all future trade agreements, too. This is something very close to CESI’s heart.” As a trade union confederation representing numerous trade unions from the public sector, CESI believes that a liberalisation of public services (such as through free trade agreements) would go at the expense of their quality.

CESI has called for such a gold standard clause in the past already. Last year, CESI adopted and published an extensive position paper on EU trade and investment agreements, laying out its visions for a gold standard clause for the protection of public services. The report adopted by the European Parliament yesterday is to a great extent in line CESI’s position. 

Klaus Heeger added: “As the EU’s negotiator, the Commission should now follow the European Parliament’s view and push for an encompassing protection of public services in TiSA.”