Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, warned that negotiations towards a Trade in Services Agreement must veer towards a text that safeguards public services, workers’ rights, citizens’ privacy and the right of national governments to pass laws in the public service.
The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is under discussion between a number of members of the World Trade Organisation, including the EU, which is represented by the European Commission in international trade talks.
Approval of the final treaty text in the EU will depend on consent from the European Parliament.
Speaking from Strasbourg after the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament adopted an interim position on the ongoing negotiations last night, Ms. Childers said:
“The Commission has a poor track record when it comes to transparency and the overall interests of common citizens.
“We must be ever vigilant as they carry out their negotiating mandates in trade talks very much in line with the views and interests of big corporations.
“We are living through a new era for transport, telecoms and information technology, so the provision of services has fundamentally changed across a number of sectors since the agreement put in place in the mid-nineties.
“But we must constantly remind the Commission that trade is not an end in itself.
“We won’t allow public services to be further exposed to private competition from abroad and undermined by trade regimes just because the opportunity is on the table.
“Health, education or social security aren’t simply intangible commodities. Their provision is essential for the fulfilment of our people’s fundamental rights as citizens.
“Moreover, as with the EU-US trade talks, we must not tolerate the encroachment of international corporate interests on our rights to pass laws that protect the public’s interest in areas such as public health, the environment, consumer safety or workers’ rights.
“That we are forced to reiterate such elementary principles should have prompted the Commission to rethink the opaqueness of their methods, and how much it undermines public trust in their negotiation agenda.”