The conference, which explicitly addressed the topic ‘Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA): Why not?’, centered around the much-stated concerns by many competent stakeholders that public services must be adequately protected -if not fully excluded- from TiSA.
Interventions by MEPs such as Monika Vana and Georges Bach -who spoke on behalf of TiSA rapporteur Viviane Reding– mirrored these concerns. Also, expert speaker Nikolai Soukup from the Department of EU and international affairs at the Vienna Chamber of Labour expressed substantial reservations about exposing Europe’s public services to liberalisation and market-opening through TiSA.
CESI was especially glad to hear that -upon a question by its Secretary General Klaus Heeger- the representative of the European Commission Ignacio Iruarrizaga (Acting Head of Unit in charge of trade in services at DG Trade) reassured that the European Commission does strive to ensure the adequate protection of public services in TiSA.
This is in line with an official announcement made by the European Trade Commissioner Malmström on the protection of public services in TiSA (and TTIP), issued on March 20 this year. CESI will hold the European Commission accountable in this regard and hopes that Commissioner Malmström did not relate to a possible liberalisation of public services under TiSA (or TTIP) when she announced shortly afterwards in front of an US-American audience in Washington D.C.: “People are concerned about what they see as TTIP’s possible impacts – whether it’s on public services, regulatory protection or investment arbitration. We know that such fears are not justified by the facts.”
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 TTIP and TiSA. It proposes to insert a ‘Gold standard clause’ in these agreements to protect public services. In February this year, it hosted an event with MEP Viviane Reding on this topic.