North East MEP says public should be consulted on EU-US trade deal

Public should have their say on controversial Transatlantic trade deals critics fear could lead to a privatised NHS

Jude Kirton-Darling
Jude Kirton-Darling

A trade deal critics fear would leave the NHS wide open to privatisation should be debated by the public, a North East MEP has said.

Jude Kirton Darling, Labour MEP for the region, is joining MP for Easington Grahame Morris in voicing concern over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and USA.

She believes the proposal to give transnational companies protection over investment in services, including public ones like the NHS, could see private American companies bidding to run UK health services.

The EU has also been in negotiations over a similar trade deal with Canada called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) since May 2009.

Ms Kirton Darling, who was elected in May, said: “There is a very good reason why civil society and trade unions are calling for a thorough public debate on CETA and TTIP: there is so much at stake with these trade deals that Parliamentarians simply cannot settle them on their own.

“In particular, we need absolute certainty that the deal will not make our regulations and standards vulnerable to corporate interests.”

 

Labour MP Grahame Morris, who sits on the Government’s health select committee has previously told The Journal the deal ‘threatens to make privatisation irreversible’ by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers.

Speaking at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Liverpool of Monday, Ms Kirton Darling, said there was ‘no legitimacy’ for including investor protection agreements in the trade deal with regard to public services.

She said: “The European Commission has been negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada since May 2009, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the USA since June 2013. Technical negotiations on CETA concluded at technical level in August 2014. The outcome of these negotiations is expected to be submitted to the European Parliament for ratification within the coming weeks.

“Socialist MEPs have been clear that there is no legitimacy for including Investor-State Dispute Settlement in these agreements.”

The Department of Health has previously said it will not allow the European Commission to dictate the opening up of NHS services to further competition via either of the two deals.

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