Following the ’Europe 2020’ Strategy endorsed by Heads of States in March and June 2010, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the future direction of EU trade policy. EPHA contributed to it by highlighting that health cannot be treated like any other business in the EU Trade Policy.
First and foremost, EPHA considers that the EU Trade Policy should complement and reinforce all dimensions of the Europe 2020 Strategy, innovation but also the inclusive and sustainable dimensions. This means that the EU Trade Policy should be driven by social cohesion, and green objectives as well as by innovation.
In other words, trade (inside and outside the EU) should be welcomed and supported, but only in so far as it leads to better quality of life, including better health for all (inside AND outside the EU).
Among other points, EPHA argues that:
1. From a public health perspective some barriers to trade should remain in order to allow developing countries to develop and sustain their internal markets and their societal development
2. The EU should not necessarily aim for more trade in services, and certainly it should not aim at opening trade in health-related services.
3. Any commitment to opening market access to services should include explicit exemptions in relation to legislation and administrative action designed to promote tobacco and alcohol control and prevent their harm
4. EU trade policies should discourage the production and exchange of tobacco products in any way or form.
5. EU trade policies should not promote production and exchange of alcohol.
6. The EU should ensure that future Free Trade Agreements and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) preserve sufficient regulatory autonomy for purposes of protecting public health
7. The EU should consider the impact of trade on the universal provision of quality healthcare and education services and more particularly should follow the guidance and implement the WHO voluntary Code of Practice in International Recruitment of Health Workforce.
8. Any International Trade Agreements to include trade in services should consider labour and environmental standards that foster quality care and provision related to their enforcement.
9. The EU Trade Policy should go beyond GDP to measure its success and mainstream this approach in the negotiations with WTO and through any FTA.
10. EPHA also believes that the future Trade Policy which – although non-development focused – should assist developing countries` efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and global efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger (as stated in the European Consensus on Development, 2006).
11. EPHA considers that protecting IPR is not necessarily the way forward from a public health point of view and health and health-serving “public goods” should be treated according to the 1994 WTO conclusion on TRIPs and recognition of policy space for developing countries to protect public health.
How does European trade policy impact on public health?
Smoke Free Partnership Seminar on Combating the illicit trade in tobacco and its consequences for Europe and Africa
The impact of the Lisbon Treaty on EU trade policy