Everything you always wanted to know about TTIP but were afraid to ask. Or more reasons to vote Yes.

This is the Common weal briefing paper on TTIP.

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Scotland’s NHS: Briefing Document

04. 09. 14

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Scotland’s NHS: Briefing Document

What is The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade pact between the United States and the European Union. The key principle of TTIP is trade liberalisation, further opening up the Trans-Atlantic economy to free-market competition. Major controversies of the pact include the insistence upon the opening up of services, including public services, to market competition; undermining regulations which ensure workplace health and safety and quality standards; and the Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) which would allow a private company to bring a case against a nation-state in secrecy, but the nation-state would have no comparable right to bring disputes against corporations.

Member-State Exemptions

One important element of TTIP is that the market liberalisation principle would not automatically include those public services where privatisation is not already an established process. The European Union is currently negotiating TTIP in secret with the United States. Part of the negotiation process is to establish possible exemptions from TTIP rules. This process includes all of the member-states of the European Union. The French have already used their exemption to protect the French Film Industry.

The UK Government position

The UK has stated that it will not be looking for an exemption for the NHS. The privatisation of services in the NHS is already taking place, through the Health and Social Care Act. Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary has attempted to pressure the UK government to “halt” NHS privatisation until after the next General Election, but this has so far been unsuccessful.

No Regional differentiation

It is highly unlikely that the EU would recognise regional exemptions from TTIP; and therefore the UK’s TTIP agreement would be the position for the whole of the UK, including Scotland, where health is a devolved power of Holyrood.

The Scottish Government position

The Scottish Government have seeked “cast-iron assurances” that the NHS in Scotland will be exempt from TTIP, but these have not been forthcoming from the UK Government.

The Consequences

Therefore, as it stands, there is little reason to believe that Scotland’s NHS, which has not undergone the same privatisation process as in England, will be pressured into opening up its services to multinational health companies, and if it refuses will be likely to be taken to the ISDS, where there will be no public accountability or scrutiny to the decision of the international court.

We must vote “YES” to stop Westminster from signing with the TTIP and save our NHS in Scotland.