Visit to the Belgian parliament: EU Trade Commissioner issues further signals to protect public services in TTIP

13 May 2015

Yesterday, in a speech to the Belgian national parliament, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström confirmed past statements of hers that signal a comprehensive protection of public services under TTIP. CESI welcomes such commitments, believing that the quality of public services in Europe must not experience a race to the bottom due to an unnecessary exposure to liberalisation and market forces.

Visit to the Belgian parliament: EU Trade Commissioner issues further signals to protect public services in TTIP

The crucial part of Ms Malmström’s speech is the following:

“Finally, people are worried about TTIP and public services like healthcare or education. We’ve heard the concern here too. And again we’ve reacted. I’ve tried to make it perfectly clear that our right to organise, for example, our health system is not up for debate or negotiation. And that goes for how we set the prices of medicine as well as for whether our hospitals are public or private. But you don’t have to take it from me. My US counterpart Ambassador Froman agrees fully. We have released a joint statement in March this year that makes very clear:

  • That nothing in a trade deal will prevent Member States like Belgium from organising public services the way they want to
  • Nothing will oblige them to privatise anything
  • And nothing will stop them from taking healthcare services into public ownership if that’s what they want. And there is no room for doubt about this. Because we’ve done it in the past. The legal mechanisms we use to protect public services have been tested by time in many previous trade agreements. We will approach TTIP in the same way.”

As a European trade union federation representing several million public sector workers in many European countries, CESI has for long worked for a full exclusion of public services from forthcoming trade agreements such as TTIP. Together with the Social Platform, it has launched an initiative to insert a ‘Gold standard clause’ in these agreements to fully and unrestrictedly protect public services. Therefore, when the European Parliament’s INTA Committee will vote on its TTIP recommendations own-initiative report on May 28, CESI calls for an adoption of amendment 397 which reflects much of what such a gold standard clause would look like.

Follow this link to access the full speech by Ms Malmström.