EPHA believes that greater transparency is vital to ensure proper democratic and public debate about the impact of trade policy on population health, following Greenpeace Netherlands’ release of classified TTIP negotiating documents.
Brussels, 2nd May 2016. EPHA believes that greater transparency is vital to ensure proper democratic and public debate about the impact of trade policy on population health, following Greenpeace Netherlands’ release of classified TTIP negotiating documents. EPHA points out the following key public health aspects of the leaked texts which merit further attention from EU trade negotiators:
Transparency is essential to ensure decisions about health standards are made democratically, particularly regarding policies such as TTIP which influence public health. As Greenpeace has stated, there has been worldwide criticism, including from the European Ombudsman, about the ongoing refusal to reveal what is being negotiated under TTIP. Whilst some EU documents are disclosed, US negotiators disclose almost nothing at all.
While Commissioner Malmström has argued in her latest blog in reaction to the leak that the consolidated texts are not the final text in TTIP, EPHA still maintains its concerns regarding how those texts will be negotiated into the final, legally binding treaty. To allay public and civil society concerns, the documents need to be made freely available.
“While the main focus is on non-tariff barriers and the right to regulate, there are still significant tariffs on some health-harmful goods including tobacco and processed foods high in salt, sugar and fats. We must not miss the point that removal of tariffs on health-harmful goods will also further accelerate the epidemic of chronic diseases in Europe, such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and cancers. So far the Commission has neglected to evaluate the health impact, but no doubt it would offset a significant portion of the purported economic benefits of TTIP,” said Zoltán Massay-Kosubek, Policy Coordinator for Health and Trade (TTIP) at EPHA.
Concerning the public health relevance of the 13 leaked documents, particular attention should be paid concerning the following sections:
Regulatory cooperation: While the reference to public health impact assessment is welcome, the consolidated document maintains worrying elements such as ‘Transparent Development of Regulation’, ‘Trade effects’, ‘Retrospective Review of Regulations’, ‘Regulatory Impact Assessment’ which may delay, weaken or prevent further regulation. Greenpeace link – http://ttip-leaks.org/hektor/doc9.pdf
EU-US revised Tariff offers on products – such as tobacco, refined sugar, chocolate, meat and food preparations, where consumption is linked to the increase in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) – are particularly critical for health and are notably excluded from the EU-US offers. Greenpeace link – http://ttip-leaks.org/kalchas/doc8.pdf
Government Procurement – It is problematic that the chapter would make local procurement more difficult for local providers while it is not clear if appropriate safeguards on health service providers (eg. Hospitals) will be built in in the text. Greenpeace link http://ttip-leaks.org/odysseus/doc5.pdf
Cross Border Trade in Services – Public services essential for population health (social, healthcare, education, water and sanitation) are not generally excluded – like the film and music industry. To assess the impact on health systems the content of the Annexes is key. Greenpeace link – http://ttip-leaks.org/menelaos/doc3.pdf
Investment Dispute Settlement – It is worrying that this does not appear to include appropriate safeguards for the right to regulate for public health in the proposal and interestingly, there is no general exception of tobacco control measures ( ‘tobacco carve out’). EPHA is calling for a public health carve out instead of a tobacco carve out. Greenpeace link – http://ttip-leaks.org/serpedon/doc15.pdf
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures – While the final safeguards should be checked, it is worrying that there is no recognition of the latest EU proposal on antimicrobial resistance (tackling drug resistant infections) in the text. Greenpeace link http://ttip-leaks.org/andromache/doc11.pdf
Agriculture – As well as our concerns regarding the link between increased trade of agricultural products and diet-related chronic diseases, it is particularly worrying that the EU proposal on Wine and Spirits in this chapter does not mention either reducing alcohol related harm, health-specific aspects of labelling or health NGO involvement. Greenpeace link http://ttip-leaks.org/patroklos/doc2.pdf
Technical Barriers to Trade – While the incorporation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade raises some questions, the impact of the chapter on public health regulations remains to be seen http://ttip-leaks.org/priamos/doc10.pdf
 – Consolidated texts are those where the EU and US positions on issues are shown side by side. This step in the negotiations process allows identification of the areas where the EU and the US are close to agreement, and where compromises and concessions would still need to be made. The leaked documents represent a substantial part of the negotiating texts, 13 out of 17 chapters believed to be in the consolidation phase, in total, 248 pages. The documents are available on the Greenpeace website. http://ttip-leaks.org/#docdoc2
Policy Coordinator responsible for EPHA’s Health and Trade (TTIP) campaign.
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