According to legal experts, the controversial transatlantic trade deal between the US and Europe could make it impossible for future governments to reverse the privatisation of parts of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS)
New Legal advice prepared by one of the UK’s leading QCs on European law for the Unite trade union, will reveal on Monday that it has been holding talks with the government about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between Europe and the US.
The news come a month after the government came under fire by anti-TTIP campaigners for blocking access to similar legal advice on the deal’s impact on the health sector.
Michael Bowsher QC, former chair of the Bar Council, who prepared the advice, argued the deal poses a “real and serious risk” to future governments’ ability to make decisions about the NHS.
Echoing campaigners’ concerns that public services such as the NHS will be first in the line of fire if Europe’s public sector is opened up to US corporations, Bowsher said: “We consider that the solution to the problems TTIP poses to the NHS – and which is likely to provide the greatest protection – is for the NHS to be excluded from the agreement by way of a blanket exception contained within the main text of TTIP.”
— EU TTIP Team (@EU_TTIP_team) February 22, 2016
Boshwer also warned the deal would enable US companies with links to NHS contracts to win higher compensation by bypassing domestic courts.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), leading the TTIP negotiations, dismissed Unite’s concerns, saying: “The NHS is under no threat whatsoever from the TTIP deal or any other trade and investment agreement.
“It cannot force the UK to privatize public services or prevent it from regulating in the public interest and any suggestion to the contrary is both irresponsible and false.
“It will remain up to the UK government and devolved administrations to decide how to run publicly funded health services, including whether private companies should be involved. Where a service has previously been provided by a private provider, this is not irreversible.”
Greenpeace blocks secret TTIP talks, a trade deal that would give multinational corporations unprecedented power. pic.twitter.com/8NaMNTfrIx
— Greenpeace Belgium (@greenpeace_be) February 22, 2016
Unite, which has already held a series of meetings with BIS officials, is expected to present its advice to the government on Tuesday.