Union confirms TTIP will boost EU NHS sell-offs

Union confirms TTIP will boost European Union NHS sell-offs

Robert Charlesworth

It’s official: TTIP is bad for your health.

Recent legal advice commissioned by general union Unite confirms corporate interests could use the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to attack any government taking privatised parts of the NHS back into public ownership.

The trade agreement was cooked up largely in secret between the unelected European Commission and big business in the European Union (EU) and United States.

TTIP procurement rules could force the NHS to contract out services it wants to keep in-house. The threat of legal action for huge damages in secret courts would create “regulatory chill” – inhibiting the state from fighting privatisation.

Some campaigners want specific clauses inserted to protect the NHS.

Protecting our health service from rapacious private firms and corporate lawyers is right. But the deal would also prevent the government from renationalising the railways, something which around two thirds of the public supports. It would also undermine environmental protection measures aimed at pesticide manufacturers and industrial polluters.

TTIP is a corporate wish list that goes far beyond even the significant privatising powers in EU competition law. The Socialist Party says the whole agreement should be scrapped. Workers should vote to leave the free-market treaty organisation it is based on, the EU.

The Tories have been staunch supporters of TTIP, with David Cameron saying he wants to “put rocket boosters on it.” It is yet another nail in the coffin of the ‘social Europe’ illusion.

This is the Europe of the Lisbon Treaty. Decades of anti-worker legislation have undermined trade union agreements, reducing wage levels and working conditions. The EU’s undemocratic structures do not allow reform from within.

Voting ‘out’ would knock back TTIP and weaken the capitalists and their politicians. This would give trade unions and anti-austerity campaigns an opening to press the advantage and struggle for big gains.