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Public health campaigners including EPHA insist that trade agreements should not undermine either the quality standards of public services or the affordability of those services, regardless of their financing. The Trade strategy should ensure that European, national and local authorities retain the full right to maintain their public services, irrespective of how the public services are provided and funded.

The new strategy also fails to acknowledge the risks that trade can bring to public health. The strategy neglects the fact that trade negotiations are taking place in a context of the high and growing burden of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (COPD), diabetes and obesity. In that regard, increased trade of health harmful goods – tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy foods, toxic or hormone-disrupting chemicals and pesticides, polluting fuels – will be detrimental to public health. These are unusual goods that illustrate the limits to the benefits of free trade – in that making them cheaper for consumers may become dramatically more expensive for society and governments in the longer term costs of illness and treatment.

“Unless the Commission builds in appropriate checks and balances, trade can hurt our health. Today’s proposal fails to acknowledge that EU Trade Policy must not constrain national governments’ right to regulate to protect and improve our health. Our Health is not for Trade.” said Zoltán Massay-Kosubek, Policy Coordinator for Healthy Trade and Health Equity at EPHA.

EPHA is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. – The objective of the European Public Health Community is to protect and promote public health: Improved well-being of people should be the primary objective of EU policies, and EU trade policy is regarded as a tool to achieve a number of public interest objectives, including, protection of public health, the environment and consumer interests.

Read the full Trade for All document issued by the European Commission.

For further questions, please contact:

Zoltán MASSAY-KOSUBEK, Policy Coordinator for Healthy Trade and Health Equity +32 2233 3872