People’s health in the UK and across Europe is threatened by plans to introduce measures that could lower vital health, consumer safety and environmental standards to dangerous levels, say 71 public health organisations from 41 European countries in a joint statement today.

The UK Faculty of Public Health and the European Public Health Association are calling on the EU to oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and United States.

Professor John Ashton, President of FPH, said: “We believe TTIP is a threat to the public’s health. The EU tells us that corporations won’t be able to force the UK government to change its laws. Yet, they could force the government to pay vast sums of taxpayer’s money in compensation if laws do not suit the interests of shareholders. That could mean that critical standards that protect the public’s health against unsafe consumer goods, dangerous workplaces and environmental hazards may be lowered to dangerous levels.”

FPH calls for the EU to reject TTIP and put health  before profit in Trading Health?, its in-depth policy report on TTIP, which is launched today.

Professor Ashton continued: “TTIP could also mean that governments would  be taken to an international tribunal by foreign private investors for introducing laws that could save lives, such as standard packs for tobacco, minimum unit pricing for alcohol or for consistent food labelling. Good and necessary laws like these would protect and improve people’s health and reduce pressure on our already overburdened NHS.

“TTIP would also increase competition in the NHS, fragment services and make it harder to give patients high quality, integrated care. It risks increasing the cost of vital medicines, including cancer drugs, for patients across Europe.”

Professor Martin McKee, President of EUPHA, said: “TTIP will take the power to make decisions away from democratically elected politicians and put it in the hands of a mechanism that is beyond public scrutiny  and outside the UK court system. EUPHA and FPH are calling on the European Union to put health before profit and reject TTIP. We need healthy communities for economic growth.”

This was first published by the Faculty of Public Health

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6 Comments

  1. john locke says:

    Total scaremongering TTIP will not affect the NHS..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.. The US has 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.if desired.

  2. Martin Rathfelder says:

    The FPH are not worrying about the NHS so much as consumer safety and environmental standards

  3. FPH Policy team says:

    Dear John Locke

    Many thanks for taking the time to read this blog post.

    In our analysis, as outlined in detail within our report, the safeguards provided leave enough ambiguity such that Commissioner Malmström’s reassurances do not provide FPH with confidence that the NHS, or any other public service, will be exempt.

    If there is no threat to the NHS or any other public service, then we would urge the European Commission and the Government to make clear the exclusion of public services and the NHS.

    With regard to the United States, as outlined within the report, among the US’ publically stated objectives in TTIP, is the expansion of market access to (EU) government procurement contracts in areas including medicine, with guarantees of predictable government conduct and treatment as favourable as that for domestic suppliers sought. The United States has therefore clearly sought to include public services within the TTIP agreement.

    Please do take the time to read the report in full, in which you will find the evidence for the positions presented within the blog.

    Kind regards

    Mark

  4. The TTIP element appears carefully worded to sidestep the problem. Here’s the truth of the matter, from trade and competition law expert John Hilary in the British Medical Journal:

    “The European Commission has confirmed that health services are on the table, and a leaked copy of the EU’s liberalisation offer has revealed its full ambition. Not only hospital services but medical (including midwifery and physiotherapy) and dental services are to be opened up to competition under TTIP. Individual EU member states may enter reservations to protect specific sectors, but the only one entered by the UK government is for ambulance services.” http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6552

    If the intention is to put in UK reservations to protect more of the NHS than just the ambulance services, why doesn’t the bill specify that rather than using this suspiciously specific legalistic language in 14(1)’s note:

    John:

    The above is further proof and as you are so often certain about your assumptions perhaps you could provide similar evidence.

  5. My post above referred to John Locke’s post not the writer of the excellent article.

  6. FPH Policy team says:

    Dear Mervyn,

    Many thanks for taking the time to respond, and for your interest in – and support for – FPH’s policy report on TTIP. We share the concerns that you raise in your email.

    Kind regards

    Mark

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