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by Tom Freeman
07 January 2015
TTIP ‘will not force authorities to go private’ says EC

TTIP ‘will not force authorities to go private’ says EC

The controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the European Union (EU) and the United States will not affect public authorities’ ability to choose to outsource a public service or produce it in-house, the European Commission (EC) has said.

The EC today published Europe’s proposals to the negotiations with the US as part of a transparency drive, after concerns were raised across the continent about secrecy and a lack of accountability in the deal.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “Today's publication of our specific legal proposals in the context of TTIP marks another first in EU trade policy.”

In November the French Government said it would not sign the deal over the proposed Investor State Dispute Settlement, a mechanism which could give companies the opportunity to take legal action against a state which introduces laws which have a negative impact on their economic activity.

A central goal of the EU is to maximise the opportunities for EU and US firms to participate in public tenders at all government levels, whether central, federal or sub-federal, without being discriminated against, but today’s report suggests this would not affect authorities ability to keep services in-house.

However, according to today’s publication Europe also told American negotiators there was a “clear need to understand the behaviour and practices of ‘State-owned enterprises’ in the international trading system,” and create “a level playing field between public and private market participants.”

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly welcomed the publication but said transparency must go further. “US resistance to publishing certain TTIP documents is not in itself sufficient to keep them from the European public. The Commission has to ensure at all times that exceptions to the EU citizens' fundamental right to get access to documents are well-founded and fully justified," she said.

TTIP is currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Affairs committee. Although Scotland doesn’t have a formal role in the negotiations, last August Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney advised the committee TTIP could “deliver significant economic benefits for Scotland,” but ministerial colleagues have raised concerns since.

When Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister Scottish Greens MSP Patrick Harvie urged her to take a tough stance on TTIP. “Scotland’s economic opportunity comes from growing our SMEs and raising wages, not rolling over for big business,” he said. 

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