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Trade in Services

The EU’s proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is not the only international agreement that would put private investors’ profits above human need. The USA and the EU also want a Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) and a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to liberalise trade and investment in all services.

Public Services International, the global body for public sector unions, contends that TISA is “among the alarming new wave of trade and investment agreements founded on legally binding powers that institutionalise the rights of investors and prohibit government actions in a wide range of areas only incidentally related to trade”.

Yet the TUC supports the EU usurping our sovereignty on such agreements. The TUC’s report Education Not For Sale talks about the threat from TISA but does not even mention that the EU is party to the negotiations!

EU negotiators only

Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, the EU has had the exclusive competence to negotiate trade and investment treaties. The EU now negotiates these on our behalf, and individual countries are barred from making trade and investment deals with other states.

The European Commission is negotiating several trade agreements on behalf of all the member states. These include Free Trade Agreements with Canada, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Colombia/ Peru, Mercosur and Central America; a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with China; the European Neighbour-hood Policy with Ukraine; and Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.

Public Services International says the agreement will prevent governments from returning public services to public hands when privatisations fail, will restrict domestic regulations on worker safety, will limit environmental regulations. It will also affect consumer protection and regulatory authorities in areas such as licensing of healthcare facilities, power plants, waste disposal and university and school accreditation.

There would be no requirements on labour standards. TISA would require all participating countries to allow free flows of labour, and would ban all tests to show that there is a genuine shortage of suitably trained local workers.