Education International
Education International

Education and other public services - an increasingly controversial issue in TTIP

published 17 October 2014 updated 20 October 2014

The 7th round of the TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US closed on 3 October 2014. During the joint press conference both the US and the EU chief negotiators , addressed specifically the issue of public services and claimed that public services would not be affected by TTIP. The EU’s chief negotiator, Ignacio Bercero, pointed out that especially trade unions have voiced their concerns around public services. Taking this as a sign of success, ETUCE continues to lobby for the carve-out of education in particular and public services in general.

The 7th round of TTIP negotiations seems to have devoted significant time to the discussion of the respective services offers as both sides disagree on the scheduling of the services offers. The US was disappointed with the EU’s offer and its hybrid approach of the negative list on national treatment and positive list on market access. Nevertheless, the comments from the European Commission show willingness to eventually adopt the negative list approach.

ETUCE stresses that the negative list approach poses significant problems, which is of particular concern for public services like education. Especially, the ratchet clause, which automatically binds any autonomous liberalisation, presents significant risk to public services. Regulatory cooperation was also discussed during the last round. According to the US chief negotiator, Dan Mullaney, the end goal is to address “unnecessary burdens”. New regulations may potentially also be subject to regulatory cooperation before their adoptions. ETUCE has repeatedly insisted that regulation is and must continue to be the responsibility of democratically elected governments.

Further to this, ETUI has recently published a policy brief on The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: exaggerated hopes from the liberalising agenda? The Policy Brief assesses that the economic benefits of TTIP will be extremely small. Therefore, it suggests that the EU should concentrate on wider policies that restore growth and investment. ETUI suggests that the EU should support an alternative globalisation agenda and should oppose the inclusion of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).