The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was condemned by a senior UN official who highlighted potential human rights abuses and the way in which TTIP could over-ride democratic decisions made by elected governments. He is not alone. The following from a respected think tank made the case in detail (see http://www.atlantic-community.org/-/ttip-top-5-concerns-and-criticism.) American companies have sued South American countries for greater amounts than their GDP through the same kind of secret courts proposed in TTIP.
In June 2015 the European Parliament will be voting on TTIP. Certainly this CLP has discussed the issue and has been in touch with its MEPs to urge them to oppose TTIP.
Below a letter from Professor Liz Meerabeau, a Kingston & Surbiton CLP member and Lee Godfrey’s agent in the 2015 General Election, highlighting the potential impact of TTIP on the NHS. This letter was published in the Surrey Comet in April 2015.
Letter published in the Surrey Comet April 16, 2015
As a retired nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), can I urge fellow residents attending election hustings to ask each candidate about their party’s position on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in almost total secrecy between the European Union and the United States.
While there is no set date for any agreement to be concluded, it is expected that if a deal is to be reached it will need to be in place before the end of 2015.
Supporters of TTIP argue it will have great economic benefit to the UK, although the economic modelling for this depends on a wide range of assumptions and is therefore not robust.
Whatever its merits for various commercial sectors, if implemented, it will have a great impact on our public services.
As part of TTIP, public service standards will be harmonised with a lowest common denominator approach and RCN is concerned this will adversely affect patient care.
TTIP could also open up the NHS to American private business, which could be able to sue if future governments decided to change existing legislation and policy in relation to health care or other public services.
Another area of concern is the proposed Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process which would use unelected tribunals and has already been used in other treaties to mount expensive challenges to public health policy, most notoriously by a tobacco firm to challenge the plain cigarette packaging in Australia.
Although some UK MEPs have dismissed these concerns as “scaremongering”, the British Medical Association commissioned a QC to examine a similar treaty with Canada: the QC concluded that the lack of definition and case law in relation to NHS resulted in real risks.
The RCN and the British Medical Association, two of the key professional organisations representing health care staff, are lobbying for TTIP to explicitly exclude the NHS, and to exclude the ISDS mechanism entirely.
TTIP may seem like a technical issue, but it is not.
While we debate the influence of the EU in national life, there is a much greater risk that our government policy may become skewed by the risk of legal challenge from large US business with very deep pockets
Professor Liz Meerabeau