The Otium Post

The Otium Post


UK RSPH supports call to halt negotiations on TTIP trade deal

RSPH supports call to halt negotiations on TTIP trade deal
2 April 2015
We fully endorse the plea made by the Faculty of Public Health, backed by the European Public Health Association, and join them in calling for the UK government to reject the negotiating mandate in light of the EU’s continued participation in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

Failing this, we want to see a rejection of the proposed investor-state dispute settlement mechanism and the NHS explicitly excluded from the agreement. We also call for the government to initiate, as a matter of urgency, a proper assessment of the impact on key outcomes, including the public’s health and wellbeing, and the impact of health on economic growth.

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive, Royal Society for Public Health: “Government has a responsibility to preserve the right of the UK to take democratic decisions that protect and promote the public’s health and wellbeing. Improving health, reducing inequalities and ensuring the sustainability of the NHS all rely on the ability to take bold public health measures including on the marketing, pricing and distribution of products linked to some of the biggest causes of disease.

Without a serious overhaul, proposals may increase tobacco-related disease and alcohol related disorders; and remove powers to reduce consumption of unhealthy foods, associated with increased obesity. While economic growth is hugely important, this should not come at the expense of public health.”

Under proposals, foreign private companies who claim that policies such as standardised packaging for cigarettes damage the value of their brand may well be able to challenge the measures and file for compensation through an ‘investor-state dispute settlement’. We are concerned that this system would harm the UK’s ability to legislate on the marketing, distribution and pricing of items such as tobacco, alcohol and certain food products linked to widespread causes of disease and premature death. This comes at a time of growing consensus across the public health world and health system leadership that we need to be bolder than ever in introducing such measures.

The trade deal also aims to open up public procurement and service markets  to US investors and research from the London School of Economics has highlighted the risks of further liberalisation.
  • Many fear that the TTIP would ‘lock-in’ private provision of certain health services, meaning they cannot be returned to state operation without compensation ; and force markets open to US investors, which risks fragmenting service provision
  • While EU negotiators have made it clear there will be exemptions for public services, it appears the UK will have to decide whether to include or exclude the NHS, and evidence suggests the government may not seek to exclude all its health services
  • A rejection of the TTIP is not a rejection of a place for private provision in the NHS, but accepting current proposals may mean uncertain and possibly irreversible shifts, constraining the UK public and governments of the future in decisions over public health and healthcare.  



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